COLUMBUS, Ohio – Twenty-four people had crowded onto a dormitory elevator before it pinned and killed an Ohio State University freshman, exceeding its weight capacity by as much as 1,100 pounds, a fire official said Monday.
The count came from a medic who interviewed survivors immediately after the Friday night accident, said Doug Smith, a battalion chief for the Columbus Division of Fire.
He said the elevator had a capacity of 2,500 pounds. "If you take the average freshman college kid, you'd probably average their weight somewhere between 140 and 150 (pounds), so without a doubt it probably exceeded the weight," Smith said.
Andrew Polakowski was the last person to enter the elevator on Stradley Hall's third floor when it unexpectedly began to descend with the doors open, campus police said.
Polakowski, 18, of Erie, Pa., was pinned when he tried to escape through a gap between the top of the elevator and the third floor, police said.
Polakowski had chest and abdominal injuries and died of mechanical asphyxia, Franklin County Coroner Bradley Lewis said.
Authorities have not concluded that the extra weight caused the elevator to malfunction. The case remains under investigation.
The state Department of Commerce released documents showing that the elevator had passed every safety test conducted by Otis Elevator Co. going back to 2003, including the most recent one, conducted July 24.
However, some students said they have had minor problems with elevators in the 11-floor Stradley Hall, which has more than 400 residents.
University President Karen Holbrook told school officials to arrange for an independent review of all dormitory elevators.