Dorm Elevator Sealed After Accident Kills Ohio State Student

An elevator in a campus dormitory where an Ohio State University student was pinned and killed has been sealed while state inspectors and police investigate.

Elevator inspectors from the state Department of Commerce will return Monday to continue looking into the death of Andrew Polakowski, 18, of Erie, Pa., said spokeswoman Denise Lee.

Polakowski was the last person in a group of students to enter the third-floor elevator Friday night when it unexpectedly began to descend with the doors open, said Rick Amweg, assistant chief of the campus police.

Polakowski, a freshman pre-business major, was pinned when he tried to escape through a gap between the top of the elevator and the third floor, police said. It was unclear if he jumped or tried to climb out, Amweg said.

Caress Russell, a third-floor resident, came upon Polakowski after he was pinned. She said she ran to the front desk to have someone call 911 when she saw him unconscious.

A few students outside the dormitory on Saturday said they have had minor problems with the elevators in the building, Stradley Hall. Alex Morando said he was stuck on an elevator two weeks ago for about 45 minutes.

The dormitory has 11 floors and about 400 residents, Amweg said. It has two passenger elevators and a larger lift.

Police and state inspectors would not say whether the elevator malfunctioned.

Polakowski had chest and abdominal injuries, and he died of mechanical asphyxia, said Franklin County Coroner Dr. Bradley Lewis. The student was dead at the scene, Lewis said.

Amweg said the death appeared to be an accident. Students gave conflicting accounts of how many others were on the elevator, he said.

Those who knew Polakowski said he was friendly and athletic.

"He was an incredibly social and friendly person," said Bill Gordon, who lived two rooms down from Polakowski. "It's just so hard to talk about it."

A teacher and coach at his former high school in Pennsylvania described Polakowski as a hardworking student and soccer player.

"He was motivated, just a good, all-around kid," said Mike Fiorelli, who teaches at McDowell High School and coached Polakowski on the soccer team. "Of all the kids I coached throughout my career, I will put him on top as far as being a top person."