NYCHA knew elevator that killed Olegario Pabon was dangerous, DOI report says

When the victim tried to walk into the elevator, it drifted up and caught his leg and hand.

The city’s housing authority knew the elevator that killed an 84-year-old man last year on Christmas Eve was faulty more than 90 minutes before the man tried to ride it, according to a Department of Investigation report released Tuesday.

Before Olegario Pabon tried to use the elevator at the Boston Road Plaza senior building, NYCHA had received a report from a resident that the elevator was “very dangerous” and not working properly, according to the DOI.

When Pabon then tried to walk into the elevator, it drifted up and caught his leg and hand. He then fell out, according to the DOI, and later died from his injuries.

“The more than 400,000 New Yorkers living in NYCHA’s public housing developments should expect that elevators operate safely with all proper protocols in place to protect from dangerous conditions,” DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said in a statement.

“DOI’s investigation demonstrates just how quickly events can turn tragic when there are significant breakdowns in communication, lax enforcement and improper compliance with the law.”

NYCHA’s senior management didn’t investigate the incident for four days, according to the report.

About a month earlier, there was a second, unrelated incident at another Bronx housing project where a resident’s foot was trapped in the elevator for more than an hour, according to the DOI.

In both cases, the elevators had “brake monitors,” which can shut down an elevator when it detects the brakes are not operating properly, the report said, but both fail-safe monitors were not working.

The DOI recommended several protocols to make the elevators safer, including monthly inspections to make sure the brake monitors are functioning.

A NYCHA spokesman said the agency is planning on implementing changes, including increasing staff to monitor building and code revisions.

“We are aggressively investigating several workers to bring disciplinary action as soon as possible,” NYCHA’s Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye said in a statement. “There must be consequences.”

Alison Fox