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Report released into death of Boston University lecturer killed in elevator accident


The Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Inspections have released photographs and a report revealing how a Boston University lecturer was crushed to death inside an elevator shaft. 

Carrie O’Connor, 38, was killed on September 14, while moving heavy furniture into her apartment block in Alston, where she had just signed a lease. 

According to the report, obtained by the Boston Herald, O’Connor was trying to move an 80 pound package into the apartment’s elevator when the tragic accident occurred. 

The birdcage-style elevator, which is around 60 years old, featured both an exterior and exterior door – both of which should be shut before the elevator goes into motion. 

Carrie O'Connor, 38, was killed on September 14, while moving heavy furniture into her apartment block in Alston, where she had just signed a lease

Carrie O'Connor

Carrie O’Connor, 38, was killed on September 14, while moving heavy furniture into her apartment block in Alston, where she had just signed a lease 

The 40 pound package O'Connor was trying to move when she accidentally bumped an emergency stop switch, which allowed the elevator to begin moving

The 40 pound package O’Connor was trying to move when she accidentally bumped an emergency stop switch, which allowed the elevator to begin moving

An unnamed male neighbor helped manually the black exterior door for O’Connor who was grappling with the 7.5 foot tall package. 

The neighbor left before the interior door had been closed. 

At the same time, a maintenance person in the basement pressed the call button ‘signaling the system to send the elevator down as soon the interior door closed’. 

However, tragically, O’Connor lost control of the large and heavy box, bumping it against an emergency stop switch which allowed the elevator to move down the shaft with the interior door still open.  

The report states that O’Connor then became stuck between the open door and the wall, and was crushed as the elevator went downward. 

The entire incident was captured on apartment security cameras.  

The birdcage-style elevator, which is around 60 years old, featured both an exterior and exterior door - both of which should be shut before the elevator goes into motion

The birdcage-style elevator, which is around 60 years old, featured both an exterior and exterior door – both of which should be shut before the elevator goes into motion

O'Connor lost control of the large and heavy box, bumping it against an emergency stop switch which allowed the elevator to move down the shaft with the interior door still open

O’Connor lost control of the large and heavy box, bumping it against an emergency stop switch which allowed the elevator to move down the shaft with the interior door still open

O'Connor then became stuck between the open interior door and the wall of the shaft. She was crushed as the elevator went downward

O’Connor then became stuck between the open interior door and the wall of the shaft. She was crushed as the elevator went downward

Inspector Martin Guiod signed off on the report and wrote: ‘Based upon my technical inspection, my investigation, and my observation of the video, there is no indication that any malfunction occurred with the elevator’. 

‘It is my conclusion that the elevator was operating as designed.’

Following the accident, tenant Leanne Scorzoni, told the Boston Globe, that she spoke with the man who had been helping O’Connor right before she was killed.  

‘I heard it, he saw everything,’ tenant Leanne Scorzoni said. ‘He was helping her with a box into the building and he was going up the stairs, and he told her “hey, just be careful because it’s an old-fashioned elevator.”‘  

Scorzoni described the scene as ‘horrifying’. 

Firefighters are seen outside the apartment complex on the afternoon of the accident

Firefighters are seen outside the apartment complex on the afternoon of the accident 

She told the Boston Globe that there is a staircase next to the elevator, and the man helping O’Connor was talking to her as he was going up. 

He just said “oh, I don’t think that’s gonna fit in there.” And then she’s like, “oh, I’ll try it one more time”. And then I heard her screaming, and I heard him screaming,’ she told the publication.  

Scorzoni added that the man was screaming and pointing when she emerged from her first floor apartment. 

‘When I looked at the elevator, it was not there. Only the ceiling of the car was on my floor, so all the cables were there,’ she said.   

According to O’Connor’s biography on the Boston University website, she has taught ‘a wide range of courses throughout her career, including French language, French for Business, Conversational French, French literature in translation, and French culture through gastronomy’.

She previously taught at Bentley University, Louisiana State University, MIT, Northeastern University, and Tufts University. 

The building (pictured) itself dates back to 1920, according to tax records, but it's unclear when the elevator was installed

The building (pictured) itself dates back to 1920, according to tax records, but it’s unclear when the elevator was installed

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