Monica Szakacs, News Writer:
A loud crash, like a bomb exploding, was heard from the outside of Schwartz Hall, according to Schwartz resident Gabrielle Stella, who was coming back from the Adanti Student Center gym and was crossing the street on the corner of Fitch and Crescent.
“I jumped and stopped in my tracks, my first reaction was to run for cover because I didn’t know what was happening,” said Stella. “Really I thought Southern was under attack or something.”
A cloud of debris and smoke seeped through the elevator doors and saturated the basement level and lobby. One of the elevator’s belts snapped, sending the high speed capsule five stories down to what could have been a death ride for anyone in the elevator at the time of the incident, according to Robert Sheeley, associate vice president for capital budgets and facilities operation.
“The main thing is that no one was hurt,” said Sheeley. “Now we will be investigating the reasons for why the belt snapped, but as of now no one is allowed to use the other elevator. We have to keep the lives and safety of the students in mind.”
Southern Chief of Police Joseph Dooley said the elevator was making its trip back to the main lobby from the fifth floor, unoccupied, after resident Heather VanCura got off on her floor this past Saturday around noon.
“She missed the snap literally by a few seconds,” said Dooley. “The actual cause is unknown, but I am aware that an inspection has not been done and is overdue.”
VanCura was still in shock that her life could have been over if she waited just a minute longer for the elevator to come down.
“Honestly I don’t know what to say, except I must have a guardian angel,” said Van¬Cura. “I will never take the elevator again.”
VanCura said she knew the elevators where to old and needed replacing, because she said they break down multiple times each semester.
Dooley said Aishah Cope, Schwartz Hall community advisor, was at the desk when the incident happened. He said she did well in the emergency procedure and contacting campus police and emergency personnel.
Dooley said he told her on the phone to evacuate the whole building through emergency exists, because an electrical fire or explosion could have resulted.
Cope said she screamed and it was the loudest crash she has ever heard. There was no one else on the main floor or basement at the time of the disaster.
She said she jumped from her seat and ran to the office yelling out for help before grabbing the phone.
“I really was panicking because I didn’t know if there was someone on the elevator at the time coming down or what,” said Cope. “I just knew I had to contact 911 first, then the police and then pull the emergency alarm.”
Cindy Sanders, Schwartz Hall director, said she is aware of how often the elevators would break down, but each time someone has come to fix it.
“When the repair guy came he never said anything about the belts needing replacing,” said Sanders. “This is just crazy, a disaster, I am shocked, but relieved no one was in the elevator at the time.”
Nick Lenares, resident, said usually he goes home on the weekends but this past weekend he decided to stay on campus.
“Seriously,” said Lenares, “the room shook and I looked out into the hallway, but I wasn’t sure if I should close the door and lock it or run outside for safety, but me and my roommates were curious to where the loud explosion came from.”
After a few minutes of confusion, Lenares said he heard the fire alarm and took the stairwell out to the back parking lot.
“No one was allowed to go through the lobby to get outside, because CAs were blocking the doorway” said Lenares, “so we used the emergency exits to evacuate.”
Spoof: Empty elevator falls five stories after belt breaks in Schwartz Hall
Monica Szakacs, News Writer: