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Grisly Elevator Death Called ‘Act of God’ by Brooklyn Property Manager

Do you check the weight capacity of every elevator you enter?

If you find your elevator near maximum weight, do you ask a member of your party to get off?

At The Espoir Luxury Rentals building in Williamsburg, your answers to these questions could mean the difference between life and death.

A 37-year-old New Yorker was killed Friday when he stepped onto a crowded elevator in The Espoir. The building’s property manager, Jacob Katz, was careful to avoid any accountability when he discussed the tragedy, saying, “sometimes things happen that you cannot control. It comes from God. It comes from someplace.”

The Espoir rents luxury apartments for up to $6,000 a month. It was constructed less than 8 years ago, and yet its elevator already has a long and well-documented history of malfunctioning.

Dating all the way back to 2012, complaints filed with Buildings Department described the elevator wobbling and jerking up and down, opening only halfway, and being generally “unsafe to get in.” City records have four separate elevator violations on file since 2013. In its 2014 inspection, the elevator received an unsatisfactory grade.

Property manager Jacob Katz has told reporters differently, however. “I wouldn’t consider that anything happened,” he said in regard to complaints he’s received over the years. “We’ve never had any problem with the elevator.”

Eran Modan, an immigrant from Israel, was visiting his girlfriend at The Espoir when he entered the malfunctioning elevator. Before the doors closed, the elevator jolted downwards, knocking Eran off his feet. When he tried to climb back into the lobby, the elevator lurched back up, crushing Eran’s head and torso between floors.

Eran’s friend Mona Ramsdell attempted to resuscitate him before paramedics arrived. “I felt his pulse stop,” she said. “I was telling him, ‘I love you, baby. You’ll be OK.’ I started singing to him.”

Eran was pronounced dead on the scene. Firefighters had to remove his body from the elevator shaft.

In the wake of Eran’s death, his friend Mona had a message for The Espoir’s management. “Fix your elevator!” she said. “If there’s a problem, don’t be lazy. Take initiative because it’s important!”

So far, The Espoir has not taken any responsibility for the elevator’s malfunction. In spite of the numerous complaints about the faulty elevator, Jacob Katz maintains that this tragedy was “beyond the control of management and ownership.”

Sources: Mueller, Benjamin, “Man Visiting Brooklyn Apartment Building Dies in Elevator Accident,” The New York Times, 2 October 2015.

Schram, Jamie, Natasha Velez, Reuven Fenton, and Chris Perez, “Man Crushed to Death in Elevator Horror,” New York Post, 2 October 2015.

Sit, Ryan, Laura Bult, Greg B. Smith, Rich Shapiro, “Israeli man, 37, crushed as he tried to escape overloaded, stalled elevator in Brooklyn luxury apartment building,” New York Daily News, 3 October 2015.

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