The elevator that plunged three stories Wednesday morning, injuring 22 people in the fall, had a defective brake, NBC New York has learned.
The Department of Buildings investigated after the crash, issuing an order taking the elevator out of service, and citing the building owner with several violations, including failing to maintain the elevator in a safe manner.
The owner, called CF 620 Owner One LLC, was also cited for illegal use of a freight elevator. DOB said the freight elevator was being used illegally as a passenger elevator.
One person at the scene, who would not give his name, said the elevator was ascending and when it was between the third and fourth floors, it suddenly began to fall.
Everyone in the car braced themselves, and some tried to grab the walls of the freight elevator.
Nine of the injured were taken to area hospitals after the incident at 620 6th Ave., between 18th and 19th streets, according to FDNY Deputy Chief Jackie Sullivan.
The injuries in the elevator crash were not life-threatening -- mostly neck and back pains, Sullivan said.
DOB said the elevator was last inspected in December 2010, and no serious safety issues were found. No violations had been issued to this particular elevator in more than 15 years.
The building owner did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The violations issued Wednesday typically come with a monetary fine, and the elevator taken out of service can't be used until repairs are made.
The elevator was one of several freight lifts in the building, which is a mostly commercial facility that houses a number of large retail stores, including Bed Bath & Beyond and TJ Maxx.
The elevator dropped all the way to the basement, Sullivan said.