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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 136035 Find in a Library
Title: Elevator Surfing: A Deadly New Form of Joyriding
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:37  Issue:2  Dated:(March 1992)  Pages:640-645
Author(s): R M Kohr
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 6
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article presents a case study of the cause of a college student's accidental death as he engaged in a prevalent form of joyriding, traveling on top of an elevator as it moves up and down the elevator shaft; a study of the prevalence of this activity is also reported.
Abstract: In the case described, the student accidentally disabled the elevator's "tape switch," a component that provides the elevator with information that allows it to determine whether it is in relation to its proper floor stops. As a safety feature, when the tape switch is disengaged, the elevator cannot move. In attempting to wedge open a door in an adjoining elevator shaft, the student was wedged in between the shaft corridor and the other elevator so that he was asphyxiated. Although this practice of "elevator surfing" has been addressed in newspaper accounts for a number of years, a computer search of the medical literature reveals no previously published cases. A search of newspapers has noted multiple reports, primarily involving small children who have died as a result of playing on elevators. The majority of these reports, obtained from the New York Times between 1986 and 1990 indicate a widespread problem. In a recent Associated Press wire service report, the dispatch indicates that, between 1984 and March 1991, there have been 14 fatalities from playing on or around elevators in the New York City area. At least one college death has also been reported (a University of Massachusetts student in March of 1990). In the articles available for review, the victims were all young males with ages ranging from 5 to 12 years old. The college student was an 18-year-old male. The causes of death have included both falls down the elevator shafts and crush injuries. Although engineers are currently working on a number of designs to prevent such inappropriate use of elevators, the problem will remain a serious concern. 6 figures and 13 references
Main Term(s): Accident investigation
Index Term(s): Case studies; Facility security
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