Shortly before 8pm on Saturday night, April 28, the UVA Music Department’s director of promotions was heading to a performance by the UVA Jazz Ensemble when she and a couple of friends boarded one of Old Cabell Hall’s elevators. The three were going up—when suddenly they found themselves falling.
Next time, take the stairs: Three jazz concert-goers fell four floors when an elevator suffered a freak failure in Old Cabell Hall (above).
All in all, the elevator compartment fell four floors, dropping in three installments, finally coming to rest on the ground floor where they and people on the outside pried the door open. No one was injured.
“It was unfortunate,” says the promotions director, who asked to remain unnamed to avoid further attention. Once she and her cohorts were freed, they shook the mishap off and actually attended the performance they had originally boarded the elevator for (this time, they took the stairs). “It was just one of those things,” she says, adding, “The concert was great.”
The elevator in question had an engine replaced only days earlier, but an evaluation determined that the fall was not connected to engine failure. “A 2" diameter fitting failed which allowed the hydraulic fluid to drain from the jack cylinder,” says UVA spokesman Jeff Hanna. The fitting is attached to the bottom of the elevator and works much like a hydraulic lift in a garage. “We cannot determine what caused the fitting to fail,” Hanna says. “This was very much a freak incident.”
An independent inspector checked the elevator on March 23. Hanna says the elevators are inspected by University mechanics on a monthly basis.
Following the mishap, the elevator was immediately shut down. Both University mechanics and an independent inspector were called in to pore over the compartment. The fitting was replaced and the elevator was declared safe for operation, resuming service at noon on April 30. It was temporarily shut down two days later so an independent inspector could give it another go around “just as another precautionary measure and just to double-check it,” says Hanna. “It’s in good working condition.”
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