Woman Crushed to Death By Midtown Elevator, 2 Others Traumatized

The elevator took off as she was stepping inside.

A woman was crushed and killed by an elevator that began rising as she was stepping onto it while heading to her office in Midtown Wednesday morning.

Two other people were in the elevator and witnessed the horrific accident at 285 Madison Ave., which is near East 40th Street.

The woman was identified as Suzanne Hart, 41, an employee with advertising agency Y&R, which is a major tenant in the 1920s building.

Her grieving boyfriend told NBC New York outside their Brooklyn home: "I loved her. She was a beautiful person."

Officials said Hart was halfway onto the elevator when it took off, without its doors closing. She died after she was crushed between the elevator and the shaft wall.

The other two people in the elevator did not have physical injuries but were treated for trauma, officials said.

Office workers in the building near Grand Central Terminal described a chaotic and gory scene.

"People were running and screaming 'Someone got crushed in the elevator,'" said John Hanna.

Officials from the Buildings Department and FDNY were investigating. Safety mechanisms are supposed to prevent elevators from moving while their doors are open.

A buildings department spokesman, Tony Sclafani, said the elevator was inspected in June and no safety issues were found then. The last time the elevator received a violation for a safety hazard was in 2003, and the condition was corrected, Sclafani said.

The elevator is one of 13 in the tower. It was taken out of use pending the outcome of an investigation.

Y&R said it was "deeply, deeply saddened."

"Our focus at this moment is the well-being of the employee's family, and our larger Young and Rubicam family," said CEO Peter Stringham. "As you can imagine, this is a great emotional shock to all of us."

Hart, 41, was a director of business development at Y&R and lived in Brooklyn. Her father told The New York Times in a phone interview from his home in Florida that she was "the most marvelous daughter imaginable."

"No father could have ever been more proud of her," he said.

Hart's former neighbors at her West Village home remembered her as a hard worker who was honest and straightforward.

"It's horrible," said former neighbor Andrea Meyer. "What a terrible thing. Something obviously went wrong."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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