The ID of the deceased will be released pending family notification, police tell PEOPLE

By Dave Quinn and Maria Pasquini
August 22, 2019 04:50 PM
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A man living in a Manhattan high-rise apartment building died on Thursday morning when the elevator he was riding in suddenly dropped and crushed him, police confirm to PEOPLE.

The victim, initially identified by authorities only as a 30-year-old man, was said to be getting off in the lobby of his home on Third Avenue near 26th Street in Kips Bay just before 8:30 a.m. when the elevator malfunctioned, falling and trapping him between the car and the elevator’s shaft wall.

Authorities said they found the man pinned by the elevator when they responded to the call. He was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS workers.

Surveillance cameras in the apartment building captured the fatal accident, according to police. Two other people were riding in the elevator with the victim and exited before it plummeted.

Medical examinations will determine his cause of death, police say.

The man was identified as Samuel Waisbren.

The building where the man died had recently been fined for unsafe elevator conditions, according to The New York Times. The outlet reported that the city’s Department of Buildings fined the high-rise nearly $1,300 in May after inspectors determined a safety feature on one of the building’s two elevators had been disabled or tampered with.

The Times reported that building investigators on the scene determined the man had been riding the second elevator, which had not been subject to a fine. On Wednesday, the other elevator had been shut down, according to the outlet.

Citing city records, the Times also reported that the building’s management company issued a work permit to an elevator repair company in July to fix wiring on both elevators.

A Department of Buildings spokesperson tells PEOPLE that an investigation is ongoing and DOB inspectors are on site.

“DOB is investigating this incident aggressively and will take all appropriate enforcement actions. Elevators are the safest form of travel in New York, due to the city’s stringent inspection and safety requirements,” DOB deputy press secretary Abigail G. Kunitz said in a statement. “We’re determined to find out what went wrong at this building and seek ways to prevent incidents like this in the future.”

Numerous residents of the building told the Times that they frequently experienced issues with the elevators.

“We saw the warning signs,” said Alex, 25, who asked to be identified by his first name. “The thing breaks all the time. It’s pretty bad.”

“It’s out all the time. I’ve been stuck inside the elevator before,” added a young woman who declined to be identified. “It’s super scary, they always jump between floors.”

A memorial charity program has been started in Waisbren’s name by his brother, with donations going towards a youth basketball team their father stated in Milwaukee.