Yesterday morning, a group of 15 adults and two children squeezed into the elevator in the F train station on Roosevelt Island. And there they remained for a full hour until the FDNY came to their rescue. One commuter, an administrative assistant at a financial firm named Alexis, passed the time by tweeting about the situation (sample: “This day keeps getting worse. I’d jump in front of a train but the MTA would find some way to cock that up too!”)
Here is her story:
Let me just say that I’m not surprised it had problems. The last time this thing was inspected was probably St. Swithen’s Day. Even on a good run it’s very slow to respond and pretty grungy, but I digress. I got on the elevator at 8:05am on Monday, December 6th. Like everyone else on the planet I was checking my twitter feed and noted the time. We all piled in, about 15 people, 3 kids aged from about 6 to 12 and one father with his baby in a stroller.
Seconds into its descent the inside door opened and caused the elevator to stop about 20 to 30 feet below ground level. The man nearest the door tried shutting it a few times; it popped back open twice before closing. The elevator didn’t move after that so we called for “help.” Time in elevator: 10 min (8:15am) The MTA person on the other end came through garbled at best, but offered no real help anyway. The person said they would call the engineer. Ok fine. There was grumbling, one person louder than others, but overall no one was particularly panicked. Ten more minutes go by and it’s getting hot in there. There’s one small vent near the front which is clogged with dirt and who knows what.
We jam the bell button, bang on the door and yell into the call button. One woman was particularly vocal, and who could blame her. It was tightly packed in there, getting stuffier by the moment and there was NO communication from the MTA. When the MTA rep gets back on the speaker, they say, “The engineer is on his way. 10 minutes.” We’ve been stuck about 30 minutes at this point and patience is wearing thin. I think the baby was the most unperturbed of the lot of us. Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator” looped in my head, but I thought singing it would be in bad taste.
Half an hour in a metal box is bad enough, but the air was getting hot and thin and a couple of people we starting to feel woozy. We decided to save ourselves and managed to call 911 on an iPhone with 1 ½ bars of service. I was near the back of the box (which must have been lead lined) and got no reception on my phone. So I took video. Where was I going? 911 dispatch hooked us up with the FDNY within seconds and we heard that they would be on the scene in 10 minutes – fine. At least it seemed like someone on the outside, with sense, was on the way.
I asked if anyone could fake going into labor. Another woman passed around cold tangerines to the kids. A little girl said her daddy could help but he was in California and it was too far. The baby was just relaxing. Her dad looked a little hot and frustrated, poor guy. We also agreed that the MTA can ‘sod off’ if they expect to raise the fair again. It was about 5-10 minutes after 911, now 40 – 45 minutes total, when we heard the FDNY banging on the ground level doors and calling out to us. Finally, someone who gave a crap! For the next 15 – 20 minutes they popped the top hatch of the elevator for us to breath, talked us through what was going on and did what they had to in order to get everyone one out safe. Total time in elevator: 60 minutes (9:15am -finally free!)
When I was 5 I found some weird looking pieces of metal in my dad’s tool box. He said it was an elevator key and I could open the doors with it if I ever got stuck; so much for that. The escalators there are perpetually broken as well. My mom was on one when it suddenly stopped. If she wasn’t holding onto the rail she would have been thrown back. I saw another person get his jacket snagged on a section without paneling. He had to keep climbing while he freed himself. When it rains, the place is soaked with water. No one mops. I was being super careful because of that but I slipped and cracked my shins anyway. Did I mention the doors have been broken for months? Yeah, the Roosevelt Island station is a mess and the MTA staff that work there are rude and useless. I’ll take my chances with the tram. At least if that gets stuck I watch YouTube.
So there you have it! The Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director tells Roosevelt Islander that no injuries were reported, and we’re waiting for the MTA to get back to us with a comment.