FDNY firefighters rescue 2 men who fell down elevator shaft during fight
Crews found one of the victims sprawled out on top of the elevator; the other victim was underneath the elevator
By Rocco Parascandola and Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — A store security guard and a teenage shoplifter were hospitalized with life-threatening injuries Thursday when the pair fell down an elevator shaft of a Target in the Bronx following a violent fight, police and New York City Fire Department officials said.
First responders were called to the third floor of the box store on Exterior Street near East 151st Street in Melrose, not far from Yankee Stadium, around 11:15 a.m. when they learned the two had fallen down an elevator shaft, cops said.
The 29-year-old victim, a loss prevention officer for Target, was fighting with the 16-year-old — who had been caught shoplifting — when they rammed into the closed elevator door, police sources with knowledge of the case said.
The elevator door opened to an empty shaft and the two fell inside and down to a ground-floor dollar store, cops and a witness said.
“It was just like a ‘boom!’” said dollar store employee Omar Felipe. “Two ‘booms!’”
Felipe believed the sounds of the men falling may have been boxes, but when first responders arrived needing to access the shaft, he realized what had happened.
“The police officers just was thinking people was stuck in the elevator. They didn’t know people fell down the elevator,” said Felipe. “The Fire Department, they cut a hole. They needed to get access inside so they can take the guy that was stuck.”
Firefighters found one of the victims sprawled out on top of the elevator, which was below the open doors, FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief John Sorrocco said at a news conference outside the building.
The second victim managed to fall between the elevator and a wall, landing in the shaft pit three stories below.
“The first victim was moved immediately,” Sorrocco said. “The second victim, it was a more difficult operation. He was underneath the elevator. We had to secure the elevator and set the brake. We sent our members down below to treat him while we set up a mechanical advantage to lift that person out of the elevator pit, which was approximately 10 to 15 feet below.”
Felipe recalled a firefighter screaming down the shaft trying to get the fallen victim to speak.
“They said ‘Are you there?’ and screaming and no response,” Felipe said. “He couldn’t talk.”
Firefighters put together a rope system that allowed them to pull the victim out of the shaft. It took an hour to bring him out and put him in an ambulance, Sorrocco said.
It was not immediately disclosed which victim landed in the pit.
The Target loss prevention officer was removed to Lincoln Hospital for treatment. The teen was taken to Harlem Hospital.
Before the fight, the teen had been caught repeatedly sneaking into the Target after he was told to leave, apparently because he had been shoplifting, police said.
When the loss prevention officer escorted the teen out of the building, the struggle began.
No charges were immediately filed.