Six people are grateful to be alive after the elevator they were riding in abruptly fell 84 floors — from the 95th to the 11th — on Friday in one of Chicago's tallest buildings

By Char Adams
November 19, 2018 02:35 PM
Advertisement
George Rose/Getty

Six people are grateful to be alive after the elevator they were riding in abruptly fell 84 floors — from the 95th to the 11th — on Friday in one of Chicago’s tallest buildings.

The group remained stranded for hours after a broken hoist rope caused the express elevator to quickly plummet on Friday night at the former John Hancock Center (Chicago’s fourth-tallest building), WBBM reported.

“At the beginning I believed we were going to die,” Jaime Montemayor told WBBM of the ordeal. “We were going down and then I felt that we were falling down and then I heard a noise — ‘clack clack clack.’ ”

Montemayor and his wife Maña Castillo were visiting Chicago from Mexico City, and had just enjoyed a few drinks when they climbed into the elevator. One passenger told the Chicago Tribune that the elevator suddenly began dropping faster than expected, and everyone “started freaking out.”

“It was really bumpy — it felt like a flight into Chicago,” the unnamed passenger, a law student, told the Tribune.

Jaime Montemayor and his wife Maña Castillo

Rescuers scrambled to find the group, as they were stuck in a “blind shaft” with no openings for firefighters to get to them, the Tribune reported.

“They couldn’t find us,” the student continued. “We thought we only fell a few floors, but we ended up falling 84.”

The group was grateful when the elevator stopped, but their rescue proved more difficult than they thought. Though no one was injured, the six remained trapped inside for about three hours, according to the Tribune.

“It was a precarious situation where we had the cable break on top of the elevator [and] we couldn’t do an elevator-to-elevator rescue we had to breach a wall,” Chicago Battalion Fire Chief Patrick Maloney, said, according to WLS-TV.

Firefighters initially drilled a hole into the concrete wall and used a camera to determine where the group might be in the shaft. And “once they did that, they knew which walls to break,” Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford told the Tribune.

They were freed just before 3 a.m. local time, according to the publication. The group applauded and cheered as firefighters led them to safety.

“It felt great to get out and tell everyone we were safe,” the unnamed law student told the Tribune. “We could go to sleep.”