The terrifying story took place last Friday around 10:30 in the afternoon. Jaime Montemayor and his wife, Maña Castillo, both natives of Mexico, entered the 100-storey 875 North Michigan Avenue elevator. Inside, along with four other people, they would have the worst moment of their lives.
Once the doors were closed, the couple commented to the media that they heard a loud warning tone of what was about to happen, followed by a dust that began to fall from the ceiling where it was six o'clock. According to Montemayor:
We heard a very loud sound, "clack clack clack clack clack". I knew something was wrong, some of us started praying. At the beginning I thought we would be dead. We were going down and then I felt we were falling.
In fact, both Montemayor and his wife and the rest of the occupants came from the 95th floor of the skyscraper formerly known as the John Hancock Center. On that floor there is a restaurant where you can eat with a privileged view of the city. The six had decided to leave the building through the rapid elevator, but with the misfortune it seemed that something was not going on that day.
Another of the six people who lived the incident was a law student at Northwester University. The young man told the Chicago Tribune that "the elevator seemed to start a bumpy descent. Then he began to fall without stopping, to get down more and more quickly".
That autumn was no less than 84 floors of descent before stopping abruptly between the 11th and 12th floors: if during the descent no one gave him time to shout, the violent stop after the fall unleashed the pulsations of the occupants, who started shouting and getting nervous about each other.
Screaming, crying, panic … As Montemayor explained:
At that moment I grabbed my wife and we held each other. We were stuck in the elevator.
The dust that fell from the roof made it more difficult now, it seemed clear that the elevator was suffering stay The truth is that it had been hours before they could hear someone. After pressing the emergency button, the safety of the elevator informed them that it was possible for a cable to become loose. Panic increased in a group that did not need much to multiply the pulsations.
However, the worst was yet to come.
The six occupants have faced a new problem: firefighters could not access because of what is known in these cases as a "blind conductor", a term that refers to the fact that they were not doors through which the six occupants could reach. As explained by Patrick Maloney, head of the Chicago fire department:
Everything was due to a lifting cable. Fortunately, the elevators do not depend on one and they still have others connected, preventing the elevator from falling to the ground. It was a very precarious situation where the broken cables were above the elevator. We could not do an elevator rescue. We had to break a wall to open the elevator doors.
In fact, in an attempt to get a rough idea of where the six people might be, firefighters drilled a hole in the concrete wall and used a camera to observe the interior of the structure. "Once this was done, they knew which walls would be brokenChicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford told several media.
The elevator was stuck on the 11th floor, the firemen passed through the brick wall creating a hole through which they could see the upper half of the elevator. From inside, the trapped group could hear firemen break through.
Once they reached the elevator, firefighters used props and reinforcements to lock it, so they forced the door to open it and put a ladder inside which the six trapped people went up. Finally, around 3 am, the rescue ended successfully. No one was hurt.
As the investigation continues, a spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Buildings explained in a statement that the elevator had been inspected for the last time in July and that the cause of the cable malfunction was still unclear. [Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, ABCNews]