An elevator malfunction at Philadelphia’s main criminal courthouse has left a sheriff’s sergeant with critical head and chest injuries and a second employee injured.
UPDATED 3:10 p.m.
According to a statement released this afternoon by the Mayor’s Office, an elevator containing one passenger went through the ceiling of the elevator shaft at the Criminal Justice Center (CJC) building penthouse.
When the elevator went through the ceiling, debris fell down onto another elevator below, which also contained one passenger. This second elevator sustained little damage. The Philadelphia Fire Department responded to rescue, treat, and transport the elevators’ two occupants.
Authorities say the elevator car shot up quickly before crashing through concrete flooring above.
Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams says responders forced the door open and found Sgt. Paul Owens bleeding from deep lacerations to his head. He says the 50-year-old officer is hospitalized in critical but stable condition. Jewell says debris fell into an adjacent shaft and struck an elevator car in the basement where employee Beverly Smith was found inside with seemingly minor injuries.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry oversees elevator safety and is responsible for elevator inspections throughout the state, and according to the City’s statement, records show that all elevators were inspected on June 14, 2016, and passed inspection. The remaining six elevators have been cleared again today by state inspectors.
The elevators are used by courthouse employees, judges and jurors, not by the general public. State officials will be brought in to figure out just what happened. The court building is shut for the day.