A Boston University lecturer was crushed to death when she overloaded an old elevator with a heavy package and it suddenly started moving, neighbors on the scene have said.
Carrie O’Connor, 38, was taking belongings to her apartment in the 1920s building she recently moved into on Monday evening and a neighbor at 1140 Commonwealth Ave, Allston took the stairs as he helped her with another box.
While the elevator usually works via a two-door system that requires the second door to be firmly shut before moving, it’s believed the weight triggered a sensor by fault.
‘I heard it, he saw everything,’ tenant Leanne Scorzoni told the Boston Globe. ‘He was helping her with a box into the building and he was going up the stairs, and he told her “hey, just be careful because it’s an old-fashioned elevator.”‘
The woman who was crushed to death at her new apartment building in an elevator accident has been identified as Boston University lecturer, Carrie O’Connor (pictured). She was 38 years old
O’Connor died on Monday evening when the elevator in the Allston apartment complex (pictured) suddenly dropped between floors as she tried to load her package. Police said they were called to 1140 Commonwealth Avenue just after 5pm
Authorities (pictured exciting the building) said O’Connor was found in the elevator on the first floor. She was pronounced dead at the scene
Scorzoni said she had spoken to the man helping O’Connor with her package just seconds before the elevator dropped. She described the scene as ‘horrifying’.
‘I don’t know what type of elevator it is, but you have to pull the door across and then step in and then press the button.’
Scorzoni added that she was told the elevator had a sensor, and the man who was helping O’Connor believes that the package may have triggered the sensor, which caused it to start moving.
Scorzoni told the Boston Globe there is a staircase next to the elevator, and the man helping O’Connor was talking to her as he was going up.
‘He just said “oh, I don’t think that’s gonna fit in there’. And then she’s like, “oh, I’ll try it one more time”. And then I heard her screaming, and I heard him screaming,’ she told the publication.
Scorzoni added that the man was screaming and pointing when she emerged from her first floor apartment.
‘When I looked at the elevator, it was not there. Only the ceiling of the car was on my floor, so all the cables were there,’ she said.
Scorzoni said she did not know O’Connor, and the Boston University lecturer had only recently moved into the building.
Management of the building said the elevator was inspected within the past year
In a statement, a spokesperson from the state’s Division of Professional Licensure said officials from the Office of Public Safety and Inspections determined that the elevator was recently inspected and certified in accordance with state regulations
Other residents in the building reported hearing screams at the time of the tragic accident. An unidentified witness told Boston 25 News that she ‘heard just an ungodly scream’.
‘We ran into the hallway and saw a gentlemen who was in distress screaming and hyperventilating and saying she’s dead, she’s dead’.
The building’s residents weren’t allowed inside for about 90 minutes as police worked the scene and were told that the elevator was stuck between the first floor and the basement.
Eric Carmichael told CBS that his wife was on the first floor when the accident occurred.
He said she told him that it all happened so fast and there was nothing she could do to help.
‘The lady was trying to put her package into the elevator, like that’s how we do it. Take it from the lobby,’ Carmichael told the station.
‘I guess maybe the package and the woman were over the limit of what the elevator could handle so then what my wife said she saw was the lady’s arms like hanging onto her package.’
Carmichael called the accident terrifying because any it could have been any of the residents inside when the elevator malfunctioned.
‘Terrible old elevator that should have been probably kept up better,’ he added.
Another resident told CBS that the elevator is an old system.
‘It’s a two-slide door system and unless that door is completely shut, it does not move ever,’ Nevada Foskit said. ‘If something did happen, it clearly had to be faulty.’
The building’s residents weren’t allowed inside for about 90 minutes as police worked the scene and were told that the elevator was stuck between the first floor and the basement (bottom left)
The elevator became stuck between the first floor and the basement, which is where the washers and dryers are in the building
The building (pictured) itself dates back to 1920, according to tax records, but it’s unclear when the elevator was installed. Police said an autopsy will be conduced to determine how the victim died
Management of the building said the elevator was inspected within the past year.
According to WCVB, Boston’s Inspectional Service Department said the elevator is overseen by the state.
In a statement, a spokesperson from the state’s Division of Professional Licensure said officials from the Office of Public Safety and Inspections determined that the elevator was recently inspected and certified in accordance with state regulations.
‘The department extends its deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the victim during this difficult time,’ the statement reads.
Police and officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are still investigating.
The building itself dates back to 1920, according to tax records, but it’s unclear when the elevator was installed.
O’Connor was found dead at the scene. Boston police sergeant Detective John Boyle said her cause of death was traumatic asphyxia, and the manner was accidental.
Police said an autopsy will be conducted to determine how the victim died
According to O’Connor’s biography on the Boston University website, she has taught ‘a wide range of courses throughout her career, including French language, French for Business, Conversational French, French literature in translation, and French culture through gastronomy’.
She previously taught at Bentley University, Louisiana State University, MIT, Northeastern University, and Tufts University.