At approximately 11:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day, tragedy struck at an apartment building in New York City as a man who had been stuck in a stalled elevator plummeted to his death. The police and eye witnesses have stated that the man died a hero, pushing a woman to safety with his final words being “Happy New Year.”
Twenty-five-year old Stephen Hewett-Brown lives in the Bronx and was attending a New Year’s Eve party on the Lower East Side of Manhattan when the elevator in the Broome St. apartment building stalled between the second and third floors, trapping him and nine other passengers. Reports say that eventually the door of the elevator opened, and unfortunately Hewett-Brown became stuck between the building door and the elevator. The woman Stephen saved was 45-year-old building resident Erude Sanchez, who was just about to step onto the elevator when it started to fall. Her life was saved when he pushed her up and out of the elevator onto the third floor, wishing her a “Happy New Year.”
Hewett-Brown’s body became trapped between the slowly falling elevator and the door of the building, and it slowly began crushing him. Manuel Coronado had been visiting his grandmother in the building and attempted to save Hewett-Brown from the elevators clutches, to no avail. The 23-year-old told the New York Daily News that he will never forget the last words that the hero said to him as he tried to do the impossible and lift the elevator.
“I tried to help the guy, but he was between the elevator and the building door. He was saying ‘I can’t breathe.’ “I tried to pull him up, but he said ‘Leave me here, leave me here.'”
Coronado took the time to also translate the tale of the horrific elevator tragedy for Erude Sanchez, whom Stephen saved, and who spoke in Spanish.
“She started going in, but the elevator started going down and he pushed her out. He said ‘Happy New Year’ and pushed her out.”
Coronado relayed that he and the other passengers of the elevator dialled 911 in a desperate attempt to save Hewett-Brown, but their response time was allegedly about 20 to 30 minutes, despite the fact that the 7th Precinct Station House is right in front of the 26-storey apartment building. They said the wait was agonizing. When the New York City police eventually arrived, it was to find the hero in the elevator shaft, unconscious and unresponsive with severe body trauma. The courageous man was rushed to the New York Presbyterian/ Lower Manhattan Hospital. A spokesman for the Fire Department of New York advised that Stephen could not be saved and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) January 1, 2016
The FDNY is disputing the response time that the eyewitnesses gave, stating that they received the call at 11:54 p.m on Thursday and arrived at the apartment at 11:59 p.m. Coronado insists otherwise.
“We called and they took a long time to come. It’s a block away. I don’t know why they didn’t come to help.”
According to CBS New York, residents say that the falling elevator that took Stephen Hewett-Brown’s life had been malfunctioning for a long time. In fact the building has three active citations from the Department of Buildings for elevator defects dating back to May 30, 2014. Residents have stated that the elevators have been known to get stuck and not open. It seems the particular elevator that took the young man’s life when it plummeted has a recent history of not working properly and has been in and out of service for the past few weeks.
The building is operated by Wavecrest Management, but the media was advised they will be unavailable for comment until after the holiday weekend. The victim’s family also declined to comment, simply asking for space to grieve.
An investigation is ongoing.
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