“Happy New Year” was 25-year-old Stephen Hewett-Brown’s final words to a woman, who he pushed to safety, before he was crushed to death in a broken elevator, according to NY Daily News.
At approximately 11:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Brown was on his way to a party on the 15th floor of a 26-story apartment building in Manhattan’s Lower East Side when the elevator he was in, along with three others – Erude Sanchez, 43, Enyel Peguero, 10, and 23-year-old Manuel Coronado, began to stall when it reached the third floor.
When Brown realized the elevator was going to fall, he tried desperately to make his own escape but it all happened too fast. He had just enough time to push Sanchez to safety and say “Happy New Year” before being crushed to the death by the elevator. He was pinned between the elevator door and the floor, with his legs dangling.
— People magazine (@people) January 2, 2016
Alisha Jiminez, 23, who witnessed the elevator accident, said that “He [Brown] was screaming that he couldn’t breathe. We tried to help him but the elevator door kept opening and closing on him.” Another resident in the building said his screams were so loud that it “knocked her bird off his perch.”
“I tried to help the guy, but he was between the elevator and the building door,” said Manuel Coronado, 23, who was at the apartment building visiting his grandmother for New Year’s. “He was saying ‘I can’t breathe.’ I tried to pull him up, but he said ‘Leave me here, leave me here.'”
New York police were immediately called, but according to a witness, “they took a long time to come.” The witness went on to say that “It’s a block away. I don’t know why they didn’t come to help.” However, when paramedics finally arrived at the scene, they discovered Brown crushed between the elevator door and the floor. He was unconscious and appeared to have “suffered severe body trauma,” but not long after he was transported to New York Hospital, he succumbed to his injuries.
When Brown’s distraught mother learned that his heroic act resulted in his death, she told reporters that she is grieving the death of her son, and she nor her family were going to comment on the incident, reported the Daily Mail.
The elevator has since been shut down and residents are trying to determine how the tragic incident could have unfolded. The former Tenants Association President Dashia Imperiale stated that “The elevators were a problem and needed to be fixed.” Imperiale went on to say that it was “Just a matter of time for something like this to happen” as the elevator had a history of problems. Often times it would “jump a couple of floors” and then the elevator would suddenly go down, then back up again.
“It could’ve been any of us,” said 27-year-old medical assistant Madeline Regalado, who has resided in the building for the past 10 years. “This is nothing new. I’m scared to use the elevator now.”
— news (@zitate_xxl) January 3, 2016
Before Brown’s untimely death, he was living in an apartment with his “family on Fenton Ave. in Laconia,” aspiring to be a musician. And although Brown’s friend, Ejiro Omenih, 22, stated that the act was crazy, it was “just who he is. He would put himself in the line of fire to help another. That shows his character.” Another friend posted on Instagram the following: “You can’t be gone you had too much left on this earth to do. More of yourself to give.”
Despite several complaints about the elevator being broken by residents, no charges will be filed against the owner of the apartment building. However, an investigation is underway to uncover the circumstances surrounding the elevator death of Stephen Hewett-Brown.
[Image via Shutterstock]