Bloomberg News

Elevator Accident Kills Woman at Rubicam Manhattan Building

December 14, 2011

(Updates with comment from borough president in fourth paragraph, buildings department spokesman in fifth.)

Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- A woman was killed at a Midtown Manhattan tower housing advertising firm Young & Rubicam after entering an elevator and being crushed when it suddenly rose.

Suzanne Hart, 41, stepped onto the elevator in the lobby of 285 Madison Ave. when it shot up, pinning her between the elevator and the wall, according to the New York City Police Department. Two other people were in the elevator and treated at NYU Medical Center for trauma.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer called for the city’s Buildings Department to mount a “full investigation” of the accident. The department’s website lists 56 elevator violations at 285 Madison going back to 2001. All were either dismissed or lacked information on how the issue was resolved.

“If a defect has been found, as was the case with one or more elevators in this building, New Yorkers deserve to know the nature of that defect,” Stringer said in a statement.

Tony Sclafani, a Buildings Department spokesman, said inspectors have issued a cease-use order on the elevator, one of 13 in the building. The last time the elevator received a safety violation was in 2003, and that condition was corrected, he said. The majority of the violations at the building were non- hazardous, he said.

June Inspection

The elevator was last inspected in June with no safety issues found, according to Sclafani. That inspection produced a violation for “housekeeping and maintenance” issues related to missing paper-work, he said. Last year, there were 53 accidents out of 60,000 elevators in the city, he said.

The incident at 285 Madison, located between 40th and 41st streets, occurred at about 10 a.m. John Hanna, a manager at Italian clothing store Riflessi in the building, said he heard banging and screaming before witnessing a stream of people running out of the property. Police responded in less than five minutes, he said.

“It’s scary,” said Hanna, 34. “How can we feel secure?”

Young and Rubicam, owned by Dublin-based WPP Plc, said this month that it will move its offices to 3 Columbus Circle on Manhattan’s west side. WPP plans to sell the Madison Avenue building, the New York Times reported last week. The property was built in 1926 and has about 415,600 square feet (38,610 square meters) of rentable space, according to CoStar Group Inc.

Calls to Aviva Ebstein, a spokeswoman for Young & Rubicam, weren’t immediately returned. Hart was Young & Rubicam’s director of new business content and experience, according to her LinkedIn profile.

--With assistance from Chris Dolmetsch in New York. Editors: Kara Wetzel, Mark Tannenbaum

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Goldman in New York at hgoldman@bloomberg.net; Esme E. Deprez in New York at edeprez@bloomberg.net; David M. Levitt in New York at dlevitt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net; Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net


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