Six people have escaped unhurt after a lift they were in plummeted 84 floors, stopping just before it hit the ground.
The incident happened in Chicago’s fourth-tallest skyscraper – formerly known as the John Hancock Center – when the people were leaving a bar on the 95th floor.
They got into the lift in the early hours of Friday morning, expecting a short journey to the bottom, but could not have been prepared for what happened next.
Shortly after entering the lift at 875 North Michigan Avenue, it began to fall rapidly and those inside believed they were going to die.
It quickly fell from the 95th floor to the 11th, before the passengers contacted the emergency services and were eventually rescued after a three-hour ordeal.
Speaking to CBS Chicago, Jaime Montemayor, who was visiting from Mexico, explained:
At the beginning I believed we were going to die. We were going down and then I felt that we were falling down and then I heard a noise–clack clack clack clack clack clack.
Jamie’s wife, Mana Castillo, described how the elevator suddenly began to drop fast before something that looked like dust started coming into the elevator.
She said it was only after they had been rescued they found out they had fallen from the 95th floor all the way down to the 11th.
Unbelievably, none of the people inside the lift at the time were injured and none were hospitalised.
The building consists of 100 stories and is the eighth tallest building in the United States, standing at 1,128 feet.
As reported by ABC News, the Chicago Fire Department were called after passengers became trapped at 12.30am on Friday. As they arrived, they realised that two cables which supported the ‘blind shaft’ lift had snapped.
A blind shaft means the lift does not stop at every floor; for example, in a skyscraper such as this one, the lift will service the 1st floor reception then proceed directly to a higher floor (say, the 40th floor) and then service every floor after that to the top.
In other words, floors 2-39 would be a blind shaft so when the people in the lift got trapped on floor 11, there would be no door to rescue them from.
Subsequently, firefighters couldn’t access the lift easily and so had to break through a brick wall on the 11th floor to open the doors.
Battalion Chief Patrick Maloney told ABC News:
It was a pretty precarious situation where the cables that were broke were on top of the elevator. We couldn’t do an elevator to elevator rescue.
He went on to say the group was ‘very gracious that the Fire Department did a nice job,’ despite the three-hour wait to be rescued.
He explained how the group remained safe throughout the rescue because there are ‘multiple’ cables attached to the lift, and not all of them had snapped.
Thankfully, no one was hurt.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).