Two New York men nearly drown -- in an elevator


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Do not read this story if you have a fear of elevators. And, if you do not fear elevators, you might after reading this story. Two New York City construction workers were rescued Sunday morning after they were trapped in an elevator flooded by heavy rains. By the time rescuers arrived, the pair were standing on supply carts in water that was neck-high -- and rising.

It’s hard to imagine a more chilling turn of events taking place on what was supposed to be an average workday in an average building, as two workers were taking an average elevator to get to their posts.


Here’s what happened: The men were working at the former Staten Island Hotel in New York City on Sunday morning, using the elevator to move construction supplies between floors. It was raining heavily outside. The elevator began malfunctioning, refusing to stop at the upper floors.

So after a bit of button punching, the men headed to the basement. Only they had no idea that the basement in the old building was rapidly taking on water. Capt. James Melvin of the New York City Fire Department said that when the elevator hit water, it ‘started sinking slowly.’

One of the men called 911 but could not recall the building’s address, only the intersection. Then the cellphone died. Firefighters headed for the hotel, which is being remodeled as an assisted living facility. A security guard at the front told them everything was fine. ‘Just on a hunch, we said, ‘You know what, let’s drive around the back,’’ Melvin said. ‘Sure enough, we heard these guys screaming.’

The men were identified as Ed Tyler and Wendell Amaker, both in their 30s.

Melvin told Staten Island Live that he’s responded to hundreds of stuck elevator calls in his FDNY career, but he’d never seen anything quite like this. ‘This was like something you’d see on television, in a movie.’


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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch