State report: No indication of elevator malfunction after deadly accident that killed BU lecturer

BOSTON — There is no indication that any malfunction occurred with the elevator involved in the death of a Boston University lecturer in her Allston apartment building last month, according to a report released by state officials on Friday.

“It is my conclusion that the elevator was operating as designed,” wrote state inspector Martin Guiod in his report.


Carrie O’Connor, a Boston University lecturer, died following the freak accident around 5 p.m. on Sept. 14. She was trying to fit a large package into the elevator when a neighbor witnessed the elevator suddenly plummet from the first floor to the basement without the doors properly closing, several other residents told Boston 25 News.

>> MORE: Elevator that led to death of Allston woman was previously inspected and repaired, records show

Friday’s report details the gruesome scene that investigators found on the day of the deadly accident.

Specifically, the state inspector wrote that when he arrived, O’Connor, who was found dead at the scene, had been extricated from the hoistway after being pinned between the hoistway wall and the elevator when the accident occurred.

“The elevator is approximately 60 years old and is a ‘bird cage’ style elevator with manual hoistway doors and a manual car gate that are closed by the elevator occupant,” the report states.

The inspector noticed damage to the hoistway door. The damage had occurred while emergency crews extricated O’Connor from the hoistway, the report states.

The elevator, which had been operating in the down direction, was situated in between the first floor lobby and basement floor, the report states.

“The elevator emergency stop switch was not labeled at the time of the accident,” the report states. “A package was lodged between the elevator and the front of the hoist way with a puncture wound in the top outer cardboard. This puncture in the box appears to have been caused by the box making contact with the gate switch.”

>> MORE: BU lecturer killed in freak elevator accident was passionate teacher, world traveler

Surveillance video recorded shortly before the accident shows O’Connor moving a large package into the elevator, Guiod wrote. The package weighed about 79 pounds, he wrote. The package had signage that stated “Team Lift” indicating more than one person was needed to move the package.

The video shows a resident helping the victim get the package into the elevator, speak briefly to her, and then leave the area. O’Connor is then seen on video struggling to fit the package into the elevator, and lifted the package from a squatting position while holding the car gate open with her right hip, the report states.

She then “lifts the package and it makes contact with the car gate switch and the elevator travels in the down direction. At this time, the victim loses control of the package, and it comes off the gate switch and the elevator stops.”

>> MORE: Officials identify woman killed in Allston elevator accident as 38-year-old BU lecturer

“At this time, the victim is still visible through the hoist way door on the video,” the report states. “Because the car has travelled down without the inner gate shut, the front of the hoistway is now exposed between the 1st and basement floors,” the report states. “I observed (the victim) reposition herself into the squatting position again with her back to the front of the hoistway, and she pushes the package up. She again makes contact with the car gate switch, which causes the elevator to start in the down direction.”

“At this time, (the victim) disappears from view in the video,” the report states.

The inspector concludes that the victim “disappearing from the video indicates that she had fallen backwards into the hoistway between the 1st floor and basement floor.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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