SUV plunges down NYC garage elevator shaft

(CBS News) NEW YORK - Two people were injured Tuesday after a luxury SUV plunged 40 feet down an elevator shaft at a parking garage on Manhattan's Upper East Side, CBS New York station WCBS-TV reports.

The incident happened around 9:45 a.m. at a garage in a building that also houses a Hertz Rent-a-Car.

A parking attendant at the garage, Steven Morales, drove the 4,500-pound Lexus SUV into the shaft on the fifth floor, falling several stories to the ground floor and landing upside down on its roof, authorities said.

A second attendant, Angel Rosa, was inside the elevator on the ground floor, according to New York Fire Department Chief Thomas LaPolla. Rosa said he thought a bomb went off when the SUV came crashing down.

"I fell from the impact when the elevator came down," Rosa said.

Rosa was helped out by other workers in the garage. Firefighters had to pull Morales from the car.

As Rosa left the scene, he was stopped by a representative from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He was interviewed about what happened.

Investigators are looking at a possible mechanical failure of the elevator doors, human error on the part of the attendant or an issue with the vehicle itself.

"It's just a freak accident that occurred," said Garage Attendants Union President Fred Alston. "These things happen. Could have been a gas pedal could have stuck or something to that effect because these guys are professionals. They know what they're doing when they get up there. It's not a game with them."

Both men were taken to New York Presbyterian-Cornell University Medical Center. Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

The Lexus SUV was yanked out of the elevator shaft and loaded onto a flatbed before being taken to a junkyard.

The Department of Buildings is also investigating. The elevator at the garage appears to have no violations on record.

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