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Young & Rubicam Exec Suzanne Hart Killed In Freak Elevator Accident

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A woman was killed Wednesday morning after being crushed by an elevator at a midtown Manhattan office building, prompting an investigation by authorities.

The accident happened around 10 a.m. at the Young & Rubicam building at 285 Madison Ave. at East 40th Street.

1010 WINS' Gary Baumgarten reports


Officials said a 41-year-old woman, identified by police as Suzanne Hart, was trying to get on the elevator on the first floor when it suddenly jerked upward. There was nothing medics could do for the California native, who was crushed between the elevator and the shaft.

"She was a beautiful person. I don't have words, don't have words for this. I loved her," the victim's boyfriend, Chris Dicksen, said.

Witnesses said Hart's leg was caught as the door closed and got stuck in the space between the floor and the elevator. Witnesses also said the car then went up halfway to the 2nd floor before the victim's body stopped the momentum of the elevator.

Suzanne Hart
Suzanne Hart (credit: Facebook)

"All what we saw, people just running out of the building and everyone was screaming 'somebody call the cops,'" witness John Hanna told CBS 2's Dave Carlin.

Hart's co-workers were left in shock and in tears after walking down flight after fight of the 25-story building. Her friends were also too distraught to comment about the horrific death.

Hart's boss, CEO Peter Stringham, told reporters: "We are deeply, deeply saddened to confirm one of our employees has died.  Our focus at this moment is the well-being of our employee's family and our larger Young & Rubicam family."

Two other people who were already on the elevator at the time of the incident suffered minor injuries and did not require hospitalization.

"We could have been in there. If we were like 10 minutes before, we were on our way to get in there actually, so that's really scary, that's frightening," co-worker Renee Mizrahi said.

A Department of Buildings spokesman was unaware of any recent service problems with the elevator. Some who work in the office building said it occasionally jerks and sometimes the doors slam shut violently, Carlin reported. It is unclear if a sensor failed, allowing the elevator to keep moving, even though Hart was not completely inside it.

A surveillance video specialist was on scene Wednesday night as part of the investigation into the elevator's mechanical failure.

"I feel horrible about it. She was a really, really nice woman and I'm in shock," the victim's neighbor Kristi Molinaro told CBS 2's Sean Hennessey.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stinger demanded better elevator inspections citywide following the tragedy.

"While the Department of Buildings does inspections, so do private companies. And we need to know what the connection is between a Department of Buildings inspection and a private elevator inspection service. What exactly does that all mean?" he said.

According to her profile on the networking site LinkedIn, Hart was the Director of New Business, Content and Experience at Y&R, where she had worked since 2007.

The company is one of several tenants in the building and announced days ago that it planned to vacate the building for a new headquarters.

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