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Woman crushed in Allston elevator mishap

Accident scene

Accident scene. Photo by Live Boston.

Update: WBZ reports the woman died.

Scott Eisen reports on a major elevator incident at 1140 Commonwealth Ave. between Harvard Avenue and Packards Corner:

One person crushed in the elevator shaft another trapped in the car.



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Oh God.


Who is inspecting these elevators?
How many dangerous faulty elevators that are still in operation out there?
This has been happening a lot lately.
Not just in Boston but throughout .

The City of Boston inspects elevators. You were expecting???

The MA Office of Public Safety and Inspections is responsible for elevator inspections.

That elevator sounds like a very old-fashioned, outdated elevator that was a fatal accident just waiting to happen. This elevator should've either been closed permanently, or replaced by a much more modern elevator that would've at least reduced the chance of Carrie O'Connor's tragic death occurring.

Crushed as in dead? Wouldn't call it a mishap.


This happened to a friend of mine in college. He jumped out of the elevator doors and then fell down onto the shaft behind him.

A kid died after jumping from one car to the next-- or failing to-- in Southwest:


***And yes, it was in 1990. Which was still the 80's. It just was. Probably only one elevator here though, but: Kids would stop the elevator between floors, pull the elevator doors open, and then undo the catch on the building-side doors, and then someone could climb onto the top of the car (yes, you might need to do this on two successive floors, but the idea is that once the catch on the building-side door is open, it's open as long as someone stands there to hold it. (Trap doors in the ceiling aren't really a thing any more, outside of the movies)

My source for this also talked about "stairwell beer keg Donkey Kong", which was just how it sounds. No fatalities reported, just sprains and concussions... not that you'd have noticed the latter at UMass.

...is that even possible?

Guess he lost his balance as he hit the floor.

Mishap is standard terminology for this sort of occurrence.

As many rickety elevators as I have been in, I never felt like it was going to fall or that the doors would open to an empty shaft. This one is scary.

I can't figure out the physics of what happened (if she was in the elevator at the time it failed, wouldn't she have just fallen with it), but in any case this is absolutely horrific. Most of us have lived in a rickety old building at one point or another, and with landlords that don't bother to keep up with maintenance. There should be another level of inspection when an elevator is involved :(


The linked article has more information, maybe it was updated after you posted. It doesn't make it a lot clearer. Says she was putting bags in the elevator I'm guessing standing outside the elevator and it either went up or down with her halfway in. That's the best I can figure. It sounds like it's a pretty rickety old elevator that probably doesn't have many redundant safety features. Horrific.

There is another level of inspection for elevators, escalators, dumbwaiters, and other modes of moving people.

I don't know how many inspectors there are now, but back in the day (like, the 90s), there weren't many and they were tough to get to show up for the annual inspections. Which weren't and aren't just a looksee at the mechanical room and cab but a process of that _and_ loading the cabs up with weights and running them through their paces. Co-workers who'd been in the business longer than me at the time recalled having to physically chase down an inspector who drove by a site, or on another occasion finding them at a restaurant and bringing them back. Now that may have said something about the inspectional division at the time, but still.

This one is definitely going to get all the eyes on it and will have every building owner reviewing their inspection program and certs.

What a shame for this to have occurred when there was absolutely no need for it to. Sympathies to this woman's family, friends, and neighbors. And all the anger at the building manager/owner.


Back when I used to be a bike messenger I spent as much time in elevators as on the bike. And as a hobby I used to note just how many expired, out of date inspection certificates were in the elevators downtown. Many of the elevators in the older or medium sized buildings were not maintained.

What are truly scary are Paternosters - elevators that do not stop moving.

If the elevator dropped while she was entering it, then she may have been crushed between the car and the walls of the shaft. From one of the interviews I saw, it sounds like she was halfway into the elevator when it dropped.

Live Boston talked to some neighbors about what might have happened. Pretty awful, as you might expect.

From the eyewitness who appeared when screaming was heard from the apartment nearby the elevator, all she saw was the roof of the elevator that sat still in the door opening. No body. She assumed the person was in the elevator when it dropped ... if an elevator drops quickly and a person has just entered it, the speed of the elevator roof coming down on them could easily hurt or kill them as their body would rise up with the floor under their feet suddenly dropping and the force of their body hitting th roof of the elevator while inside would be crushed as if they were thrown into the roof of the elevator with a great speed. This seems to be what happened as firemen found her in the car deceased and no part of her body was found outside of the elevator.per the first witness. Since she lived on a higher floor, and the elevator was on the 1/2 ground floor under the 1st floor, as explained by the witness, the elevator must have dropped down on it own as she would have pushed her upper floor button, if she had a chance to push it at all. Someone said the box may have triggered the button or sensor too as it was supposedly large and she had attempted to enter the elevator with the box a couple times before with no success as the box per the man who took the stairs told her the box was too big for the elevator, but she told him she would try once more.

A college friend lived in that building from 1970-72 and even then we usually took the stairs as we were scared of that thing.

WBZ reports she was Carrie O’Connor, 38, a lecturer in French at Boston University.


Boston University professor killed in elevator accident
By Joseph Wilkinson
New York Daily News |
Sep 15, 2020 at 9:31 PM

...Police found O’Connor’s body in the elevator on the first floor of the building, according to local CBS affiliate WBZ. She died of traumatic asphyxia; her death was ruled accidental.

Police said the building, which was built in 1920, passed all recent inspections, WCVB reported. Neighbors said O’Connor had just moved in.