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  • Sometimes you just can't take the stairs.

  • Maybe you're tired after a long week, maybe you're carrying something heavy, or maybe

  • you suffer from limited mobility, such is the case of wheelchair users or the elderly.

  • In times like this, the humble elevatoran invention that's been with us in some form

  • since even the Roman Empireis a godsend.

  • So, you step inside, press the button corresponding to your intended floor, and wait.

  • From there, you're on easy street.

  • Or so you'd think.

  • Because, when you're unlucky, this mundane contraption has the potential to become your

  • final resting place.

  • Take the horrifying case of Marites Fortaliza, a mild-mannered, fifty-three-year-old housekeeper

  • from Queens.

  • Fortaliza worked for the owners of a five-story townhouse at 48 East 65th Street, on the Upper

  • East Side, near the iconic Madison Avenue.

  • If you have even a passing knowledge of New York real estate, you'll know that you need

  • to be absolutely loaded to afford a place like that.

  • Warren Stephensthe billionaire investment banker who owns the placedefinitely fits

  • the bill.

  • He and his wife, Harriet, bought the home for a stunning eight million dollars in 1999.

  • Marites probably felt lucky to score such a lucrative position, until one fateful Friday

  • night in the January of 2019.

  • The Stephens were away for the weekend, and Marites was doing her regular cleaning duties,

  • when she decided to take the home's private elevator back to the bottom floor.

  • That's when disaster struck.

  • The elevator jammed in the shaft during the descent, and just like that, Marites Fortaliza

  • was stuck.

  • Unlucky for her, this elevator didn't have a working phone or an emergency buttonwhich

  • is a legal requirement for private elevators in New York that aren't continuously monitored.

  • In other wordswith the owners away for the weekend, and with no means of communicating

  • with the outside, she was in deep trouble.

  • If you suffer from claustrophobia, you're probably already sweating, but here are a

  • few more frightening facts: While someone can starve for as long as seventy days before

  • dying, dehydration can take as little as three days to become mortally dangerous.

  • Three daysthat's just a long weekend, which seemed to be exactly what the Stephens

  • were taking.

  • If Marites didn't get extremely lucky, then time really wasn't on her side.

  • Right now, you're probably thinkingThis is scary, but it's a freak accident.

  • There's no reason to be concerned about stepping on an elevator.”

  • And sure, you're mostly right, but this isn't an unprecedented case.

  • Even in New York City alone, elevators are notoriously prone to malfunction.

  • Back in 1999, the same year the Stephens bought the house that Marites Fortaliza was currently

  • trapped inside, Nicholas White – a production manager for Business Week magazineunderwent

  • a similar ordeal.

  • The hard-working 32-year-old, much like Marites, was preparing to clock off on a quiet Friday

  • evening.

  • Feeling tired from a long week, he decided to take the elevator down from his office

  • in the midtown Manhattan high-rise where the magazine was based.

  • When the metal doors shuttered behind him, it was 11:24 PM, and Nicholas was one of the

  • last to leave.

  • Just as he was probably thinking about how to spend his weekend, set to the ambiance

  • of tinny elevator music, the elevator jammed just above the 13th floor.

  • Talk about an unlucky number.

  • Naturally, he was calm at firstafter all, it's not uncommon for elevators to

  • get a little jolt now and then.

  • But when it became apparent that he wasn't going to be moving again, the panic started

  • to set in.

  • He screamed and yelled, trying to attract the attention of someone outside, but nobody

  • was there to hear him.

  • He pressed every single button on the interface, but had no luck.

  • He even attempted to call maintenance, and was met with no response.

  • It wasn't until he'd spent over forty hours in the elevator that he was eventually

  • discovered and freed.

  • Nicholas was shaken by the experience, refusing medical treatment because he just wanted to

  • go home and sleep the whole scary incident off.

  • The McGraw-Hill Companies, the parent entity of Business Week Magazine, naturally had some

  • questions as to how exactly Nicholas could remain undetected for so long.

  • This wasn't a private residence, like the house where Marites Fortaliza found herself

  • trapped, it was a fifty-floor building owned by the Rockefeller Center Management Corporation.

  • When asked, they passed the buck to New York electrical company Consolidated Edison.

  • Con Edison did admit that at 11:21 PM that same night, they did experience a voltage

  • dip lasting a tenth of a second, which may have accounted for some of the malfunction.

  • However, this still doesn't account for why nobody was monitoring the elevator, and

  • why it took almost two days for Nicholas to be noticed.

  • One theory is that the cameras the building claimed to have for the elevator shafts were

  • largely just for show, rather than live feeds that were actually being routinely monitored.

  • In the end, we'll never really know why Nicholas White spent forty hours in the elevator

  • shaft.

  • Nicholas himself was just eager to put the whole thing behind himbut while she was

  • still trapped in that tiny personal elevator, that was a luxury that Marites Fortaliza didn't

  • have.

  • As the hours passed, it was probably beginning to dawn on Marites that she might not be saved

  • in time.

  • There was no food, no water, and perhaps most uncomfortably of all, no bathroom.

  • According to US life insurance statistics, the odds of dying in an elevator are 1 in

  • 10,440,000.

  • But New York State has a population of almost twenty million people, so maybe she was about

  • to get unlucky.

  • After all, accidents happen.

  • Another similar accident occurred in New York City in 2005, six years after Nicholas'

  • unfortunate incident in Manhattan.

  • Ming Kuang Chen, a thirty-five-year old delivery man for the Happy Dragon – a Chinese takeout

  • restaurant in the Bronxmysteriously disappeared during a delivery to one of the Tracey Towers,

  • a pair of 38-story apartment buildings at 40 West Mosholu Parkway near Jerome Avenue.

  • When Ming didn't return from his delivery, and his bicycle was found chained up outside,

  • his friends, family, and employers feared the worst: After a series of delivery man

  • homicides that'd taken place over the past five years in New York City, they thought

  • Ming had been murdered.

  • Police began looking into the matter immediately.

  • They canvassed the area with cadaver-detecting police dogs, sending police scuba divers into

  • the nearby Jerome Park Reservoir, and asking door to door at the over eight hundred apartments

  • in the Tracey Towers.

  • They discovered that Ming had made all his required deliveries before vanishing without

  • a trace.

  • Little did they know, as they practically turned the building and its surrounding area

  • upside down in their search, Ming Kuang Chen was actually right next to them the whole

  • time.

  • He'd spent the last three days and then some without food and water, trapped in a

  • malfunctioning express elevator.

  • He'd been trapped for over double the time that Nicholas White was locked inclocking

  • in at a terrifying eighty-one hours.

  • Ming had been screaming desperately for help the whole time, but nobody had heard him.

  • Much like White's case, the circumstances of how Ming could be trapped for so long is

  • a little mysteriouswith the building managers insisting that the cameras in the

  • building were still fully functional.

  • Ultimately, Ming was just happy to be free, though he was understandably shaken by the

  • incident.

  • He was treated for dehydration at a local hospital before being questioned by police

  • about the strange incident.

  • Ming had managed to make contact with building maintenance over the intercom several times

  • during his confinement, but being a relatively recent immigrant from the Fuzhou region of

  • Fujian Province in South-Eastern China, he couldn't speak fluent English.

  • The language barrier kept building maintenance from being able to fully understand and help

  • Ming, keeping him trapped in his four-by-six prison.

  • All in all, Ming was just grateful to be free in the end, though the incident may have soured

  • him on the delivery driver profession.

  • The cruel irony of where he was trapped wasn't lost on Ming, either, as he commented that

  • the people in the Tracey Towers apartment building had always been lousy tippers.

  • Plenty of people out there have elevator horror stories, some more mild than others.

  • Brian Acott, a man from the UK, was trapped just above the ground floor of his office

  • building, but managed to pry the doors open and climb free.

  • A Canadian man interviewed by the BBC, who identified himself only as Don, recounted

  • the time he was trapped in an elevator on the 55th floor of the Empire State building

  • when he was eleven years old.

  • He, his aunt, and two Danish tourists were trapped in the elevator for around an hour

  • and a halfduring which time he had to urinate in the corner.

  • In one particularly funny example of an elevator mishap, Kenny Wheeler, another guy from the

  • UK, was trapped in an elevator at his place of work for just under an hour.

  • After nobody responded to his calls for help, he posted a Facebook status update to try

  • to get people's attention.

  • Ten of his friends liked the status, though only one actually called his place of work

  • and got him freed from the elevator.

  • But it isn't all fun and games.

  • Lydia Kari, from Nairobi, Kenya, was trapped in an elevator with a stranger high on an

  • unknown drug.

  • 19-year-old Australian student Cailem Leembruggen caught some terrifying cell phone footage,

  • when he was trapped in an elevator packed with fourteen people, before the elevator

  • began hurtling downwards at ninety miles per hour.

  • Miraculously, nobody was seriously hurt in the incident.

  • This was the kind of incredible luck Marites Fortaliza needed, as she sat in that darkened

  • New York elevator, waiting and hoping to be rescued before it was too late.

  • Of course, not everyone is lucky in a situation like this.

  • Elevator malfunctions have been responsible for some pretty horrific deaths.

  • Take the harrowing story of Ms. Wu, a 40-year-old woman in the Gaoling district of Beijing who

  • died a death you probably wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.

  • She became trapped in a broken elevator in her apartment building, which two repair workers

  • had left in an unusable state without proper signage for thirty days.

  • She was trapped inside that elevator the entire time it was out of commission, resulting in

  • a grim and lonely death from starvation and dehydration.

  • Ms. Wu became an unwitting martyr for the cause of better public maintenance in China,

  • after a series of deaths resulting from horrific elevator and escalator accidents that were

  • the direct result of shoddy maintenance and repair.

  • Ms. Wu's death can actually be directly linked to one negligent action from the two

  • workers tasked with turning off the elevator's power: They called into the elevator to check

  • if anyone was in there, but didn't – as regulations dictatepry open the doors

  • to check if anyone was inside.

  • If they had done this, Ms. Wu may not have suffered such a horrible fate.

  • Though she's not the only one.

  • Many people have fallen to their deaths down elevator shafts.

  • And in one example that feels like a scene straight out of a horror movie, a doctor in

  • Houston, Texas, named Hitoshi Nikaidoh was decapitated by an elevatorwhich cut off

  • his head above the lower jaw, causing it to land in the car of the elevator.

  • The experience was something out of a nightmare for one of his co-workers, Karin Steinau,

  • who was trapped inside the elevator with the doctor's severed head.

  • It's hard to even imagine something more horrifying than this.

  • While Marites Fortaliza was neither decapitated, nor trapped in an elevator with a decapitated

  • head, death from dehydration in the vein of Ms. Wu was a real threat.

  • As the hours drew on, she began to doubt that anyone would come to save her.

  • Trapped without anything to pass the time, she began to lose all sense of how long she'd

  • been in there.

  • Would she just be another statistic?

  • Another name to reel off in an article or video about strange elevator-based deaths?

  • Well, luckily for Marites, the Stephens were about to receive a delivery.

  • When the delivery worker arrived on Monday, they were unable to deliver the package, so

  • they contacted the Stephens.

  • The Stephens then contacted a family member who could go and collect the delivery.

  • This family member finally noticed that Marites was trapped inside the broken elevator, and

  • finally called the authorities.

  • Police and firefighters managed to safely rescue Marites Fortaliza from the private

  • elevator of the Stephens' five-story townhouse.

  • Like all locations where a lot of people congregate on a daily basis, accidents happen in elevators.

  • Sometimes, these accidents can lead to pretty horrifying consequences.

  • But other times, such as in the case of Marites Fortaliza, you just get lucky.

  • Want to hear more miraculous stories of survival?

  • Check out “I Was Trapped In a Cave For 18 Days with Water Risingand “I Was Trapped

  • Underwater For Three Days.”

  • In the meantime, if you can, maybe take the stairs next time.

Sometimes you just can't take the stairs.

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B2 elevator trapped ming nicholas delivery building

Trapped in Elevator for 3 Days

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    Summer posted on 2020/08/18
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