Three escape injury when U.Va. elevator drops 4 floors

Associated Press • May 1, 2007 at 10:12 AM

CHARLOTTESVILLE - Three people attending a concert at the University of Virginia's Old Cabell Hall escaped injury after an elevator plunged four floors, U.Va. officials said.

The U.Va. music department's promotions director and two friends were on the elevator Saturday night when it rapidly descended. The car stopped abruptly, dropped again, then stopped once more before falling to the bottom of the shaft and slamming against the emergency buffer.

The passengers were able to pry open the door with the help of several people on the outside. Hydraulic fluid spilled out around the elevator.

"Thankfully, no one was hurt. We were very lucky," department chairman Richard Will said Monday. "My main concern right now is that no one is getting on that elevator again until we're sure they will be completely safe."

He said the elevator was repaired Monday but remained closed until further tests could be conducted.

U.Va. spokeswoman Carol Wood said the elevator had been acting up and that workers had replaced the 20-year-old motor last week. She said a 2-inch fitting either broke or popped off, causing the elevator to lose hydraulic pressure and "experience a rapid descent."

The university's elevators are inspected twice a year. The Old Cabell elevator was last inspected March 23.

After their harrowing ride, the three people in the elevator went upstairs and attended the concert.

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