It’s unclear why so many people were packed into the elevator Monday afternoon, but the president of Dean Realty Co. who owns the property says he and the owners take steps to comply with the law.
The elevator stalled Monday afternoon while carrying 18 people to the Downtown Underground a business park at the corner of 31st and Mercier.
Most of the people trapped inside were international students.
They say they were stuck for more than an hour, “We just started to cry,” said Manuela Salazar who was in the elevator.
Fear turned to panic as they attempted to reach help. “We pushed the alarm for like 5 minutes and nobody answered us,” said Salazar.
Eventually, students began calling 911 and the Kansas City Fire Department quickly responded.
The manager of the property says the elevator is made for 6 people.
The building has signs posted both inside and outside of the elevator.
“It’s got a safety switch on it to where if you get too much weight on it, it will automatically stop,” said Walter Clements, president and CEO of Dean Realty Company which owns the property.
Clements says the elevator is routinely inspected and is not due for another check until December.
“We have annual meetings with the fire department,” said Clements.
As for the concern about the help button, Clements says it works and the Kansas City Fire Department met with him today to discuss what happened and make sure everything is in working order.
Along with KCFD, the city also performs annual inspections.
According to the city, the elevator in question passed the last three inspections. It had a repair in 2014 that required a re-inspection.
Prior to that, the elevator passed inspections dating back through 2011, the previous 10 years included several failed inspections that required repairs. Those repairs were made and it passed inspection.
The city also says the elevator has a valid operating certificate that is good through the end of November this year. The annual inspection includes testing the car and counterweight safeties, car and counterweight governors, slack rope and broken rope detectors, emergency brakes, traction loss, door operation, emergency communications, and operations.
The city also requires buildings with elevators to have signs stating the maximum weight and/or number of passengers.