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NY Officials Call For Elevator Safety Bill With Improved Regulations

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- State leaders are demanding change after a man was killed in an elevator accident last month on the Lower East Side.

The accident at 131 Broome St. turned deadly for 25-year-old Stephen Hewett-Brown on New Year's Eve.

An elevator stalled between the second and third floors, and witnesses said when the doors opened, he helped push a woman up and out of the elevator to safety. But Hewitt-Brown was crushed to death when the elevator suddenly went down.

The tragedy is something State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblyman Ketih Wright said they can't ignore.

They're now calling for the Elevator Safety Act to pass in New York. It would ensure elevators across the state get properly maintained and that workers who service them get more training and proper licensing.

"Elevators are part of our daily lives -- we need to ensure they are up to the safety standards on which lives depend," Squadron said in a statement.

"It is shocking and unthinkable that New York State doesn't do everything possible to protect the safety of its residents," Wright said.

According to IUEC Union Local 1 Chief Mike Halpin, training and licensing for mechanics is needed, 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa reported.

"There's a blurb in code that says 'you should be trained.' It doesn't specify training," he said.

The announcement comes a day after a 2-year-old boy plunged 20-feet down an elevator shaft after falling through a gap during a wedding rehearsal at a catering hall in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx. The boy's family and workers at the catering hall used a ladder to rescue the boy, who suffered minor injuries.

While the incident on the Lower East Side is still under investigation, people who live in the complex want something to change.

Tenants claim they've been dealing with elevator scares for years and had trouble as recently as Thursday.

"It got stuck on the sixth floor, but then it kept going," tenant Evelyn Gonzales said. "When it reached my floor the door opened a little bit and it got stuck."

On Thursday night, outraged tenants faced building management and demanded answers.

"I'm certain all of you are feeling something that I'm feeling, it's called anger," one tenant said.

The Department of Buildings said it issued three violations in 2014 for minor infractions, none for hazardous conditions.

Building representatives told the crowd they're now doing an extensive review of every elevator and additional testing.

"You have a right to know to be safe and secure in your home we recognize that and we're going to take this tragedy and try to make things better for everyone," a building representative said.

The Buildings Department said it inspected all of the elevators at the building in question after the accident and determined they are safe. The elevator in question is still shut down due to the investigation.


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