Boy, 7, crushed dead by elevator during days after regulators urged recall

A 7-year-old boy was found trapped in an elevator in an Outer Banks, North Carolina, vacation home rental (left) (Pictures: Twiddy Vacation Rentals/Google)

A 7-year-old boy was crushed to death in a home elevator accident just three days after federal regulators urged another major manufacturer to block the gap that could trap children between the doors. The boy was found stuck between the bottom of the elevator car and the upper door frame of the home in Outer Banks, North Carolina, on Saturday night.

The boy’s family, from Canton, Ohio, had arrived at the beach rental home for their vacation earlier that day, Corolla Fire Chief Rich Shortway told the Washington Post. It appeared that the boy was stuck between the moving elevator’s inner accordion door and an outer door, crushing his neck.

‘It’s just such a terrible tragedy,’ Shortway said.

First responders tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate the boy, according to WAVY, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The Cuttrick County Sheriff’s Office ruled his death an accident.

‘We are not sure exactly how it happened,’ Currituck County Fire-EMS Chief Ralph Melton told The Coastland Times. ‘The child was entrapped in the doors. We were able to free him but his head and neck were crushed by the elevator. He died of traumatic injuries sustained in the elevator mishap.’ 

The elevator industry has been aware of the child safety hazard for decades. A $100 foam or plastic insert could fill in the gap, but officials in the industry have told regulators that it is a complicated issue and not their responsibility.

In 2019, the Consumer Product Safety Commission decided not to require elevator companies to fix the issue or carry out recalls. Instead, the commission published a safety alert on its website and sent notices to governors.

Four months later, a 4-year-old boy was trapped in an elevator in his grandparents’ home near Salt Lake City. He survived.

Last week, the commission voted 3-1 to sue manufacturer ThyssenKrupp Access in connection with a child’s death and another child’s injury. The commission is pushing the company to conduct a recall to examine and fix its residential elevators.

The elevator in the Outer Banks home was not manufactured by ThyssenKrupp Access, but rather by Custom Elevator Manufacturing Inc, Shortway said. The beach home was renting for about $14,000 per week, according to the Daily Mail.

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