Woman rode elevator to death in Chicago high-rise fire

Chicago fire victim Shantel McCoy
CBS 2 Chicago

CHICAGO - An early morning fire in a high-rise on Chicago's North Side killed a woman who was in an elevator as the flames tore through parts of the apartment building, authorities said Sunday.

Nine others, including two firefighters, were injured. None of the injuries were life threatening.

Chicago firefighters were called to the 21-story building about 2 a.m. Sunday. Fire Department Chief Joe Roccasalva said the fire started in an apartment on the 12th floor and smoke poured out into the building from the apartment's open door.

The Cook County medical examiner identified the victim as Shantel McCoy. Her death was ruled accidental and causes of death included carbon monoxide intoxication and inhalation of smoke and soot.

Roccasalva said firefighters found McCoy on the 12th floor. He said the elevator doors were open, and it appeared as though she was going up to her apartment. She had been carrying her purse and carry out food.

"The door of the apartment that was on fire didn't close when they left and all the heat and gases and smoke poured into the hallway. When the elevator door opened up, she just got blasted," Roccasalva said.

McCoy did not live in the apartment where the fire started. She was taken to an area hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

CBS 2 Chicago's Dana Kozlov spoke with the victim's mother, JoAnn McCoy, from Pennsylvania.

"Shouldnt the elevators have been shut down for her not to be able to get on there?" McCoy asked. "I mean it was a fire."

She said her daughter moved to Chicago from Philadelphia last March to start a new life, and she worked for Wirtz Beverages.

"She was just ready to relocate to a new city," McCoy said. "She just picked Chicago to move to. She loved the city and of the several cities she was looking to relocate to, she picked Chicago."

No cause was determined for the fire, but authorities did not believe it was suspicious. Electrical investigators were on the scene.

Fire officials say high-rise buildings constructed after 1975 are required to have sprinkler systems and an automatic elevator recall. But the building where the fire broke out was completed in 1952.

Older high-rise buildings would have been subject to enhanced safety rules as of Jan. 1. But Chicago Department of Buildings spokesman Bill McCaffrey told the Chicago Sun-Times the City Council in December extended the compliance deadline to Jan. 1, 2015, because landlords have been unable to afford the costly work.