Blind Man Falls to Death in Elevator Shaft Due to Faulty Door

A faulty elevator door allowed a blind man returning home from a trip to the bank to step into an empty shaft and topple to his death, authorities said Friday.

The body of 67-year-old Sheldon Scott was discovered Thursday night inside his 10-story Bronx apartment building, where he lived with his wife. Police said he was legally blind.

Scott's wife reported him missing Thursday afternoon, about four hours after he left their third-floor apartment to go to the bank. Officers who searched the building later found him in the elevator shaft.

On Friday, city inspectors discovered that a mechanism that prevents riders from pulling open an outer door until the elevator car arrives had failed. Once Scott opened the door, he fell about 15 feet.

The medical examiner's office said an autopsy found he died of blunt impact to his head and torso, and it ruled the death an accident.

The building had been cited for 14 elevator violations since 1991, including three that were dismissed on Wednesday, according to a city Web site. A separate complaint logged Thursday from a caller reporting Scott's death includes a notation saying, "shaft open/unguarded."

City Department of Buildings spokesman Tony Sclafani said none of the earlier violations involved problems with the door of the elevator used by Scott.

There was no response to a telephone message left Friday with the building's owner.