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Man Crushed To Death In Elevator Accident At Upscale Williamsburg Building

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A routine ride on an elevator turned deadly in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Friday morning.

Eran Modan, 37, was with a group of people in the elevator of an upscale building located at 156 Hope St. in Williamsburg shortly before 4:30 a.m. when it suddenly dropped nearly three feet, 1010 WINS' Roger Stern reported.

Modan tried to climb out through the open doors, but the elevator moved again and crushed him, Stern reported.

"All of a sudden the elevator just drops and then shoots straight up; it was so fast," Mona Zarrin-Ramsdell who was in the elevator at the time of the incident, told CBS2's Steve Langford . "As it went down, he tried to jump out because the doors were still open, and it shot straight up. When it shot straight up it took his body with him."

Late Friday, Zarrin-Ramsdell was reeling from the shock of seeing her close friend get crushed and die with her in the elevator, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported. They had gotten into the elevator and pushed the button for the floor of a friend who has an apartment here.

When the elevator shot up, Modan's head and torso were crushed. Zarrin-Ramsdell tried to save Modan's life, but was not able to do so.

"I just kept blowing into his mouth and said, 'We can do this.' I felt his pulse," Zarrin-Ramsdell said.

Police responded to the scene and found Modan unconscious and unresponsive, with trauma to the head and torso.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Eran Modan
Eran Modan was killed in an elevator accident in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Friday, Oct. 2. (Credit: CBS2)

Residents of the six-story building were stunned and said this could have happened to anybody.

"Me, it could be my friend, it could be anybody, it could be somebody's son, I'm just shocked," a resident said.

"These are things that we have to use just like so many people have to commute in cars when that's such a dangerous thing to do," another resident said.

Investigators with the Department of Buildings said the elevators' inspections are up to date, and it is too soon to know exactly how this happened.

"It just appears to be a tragic accident that we need to further investigate," said New York City Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler.

There were at least five people in the car at the time, police said.

"We're speculating at this time because it's still under investigation," said Chandler. "It's possible it may have been overloaded the car was reacting in a way that was not predictable."

"There's so many backup safeties to the elevator, I don't understand why something like that happens," George Hurling, who is with the company that maintains the elevator, told 1010 WINS' Roger Stern.

Hurling said the elevator received monthly maintenance.

Patrick Carr is an elevator expert who says in an elevator emergency, as long as it is not on fire, one should always stay put.

"When these things happen, they're beyond our comprehension," Carr said. "You could have had a failure in the actual device that stops the doors from opening between floors. It could have been human error; someone may have made a mistake when they disconnected something."

Carr said Modan should not have tried to escape.

"It would have saved his life in this case if he wouldn't have tried to get out, but he would have been OK if the elevator didn't move after he tried," Carr said. "That was the problem."

The elevator was shut down and off limits late Friday for an investigation that will include a thorough check of all of its parts. There was no word late Friday on when the elevator would begin operating again.

Building management did not comment.

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