A visiting researcher was trapped inside one of Lauinger Library’s main lobby elevators for about 45 minutes after it sustained damage around 4:30 p.m. Nov. 12.
The researcher was safely rescued, but the incident’s specific cause remains unknown. The other main lobby elevator remains operational while the affected elevator car is being repaired by the Georgetown University Office of Planning and Facilities Management, but the university has not provided an official timeline for when repairs will finish.
An unknown impact from either an individual or a piece of equipment caused the elevator to break, according to Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Benjamin Kuo.
“As a result of the impact, the door fell inwards, temporarily preventing the door from reopening while an individual was onboard,” Kuo wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Facilities and GUPD are working together to review the camera footage and identify the source responsible for the damage.”
Facilities is working with the Georgetown University Police Department to review camera footage and identify the source of the damage to the elevator, according to Kuo.
The researcher was safely rescued by Georgetown facilities and the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department after being trapped for around 45 minutes, according to Beth Marhanka, head of Gelardin New Media Center on Lauinger’s first floor.
“Unfortunately, a visiting researcher who had just bought coffee in the Midnight Mug was in the elevator when it became stuck between the 2nd and 3rd floors of Lauinger,” Marhanka wrote in an email to The Hoya. “She was very patient and in good spirits while we waited for the elevator technician and the fire department to open the door.”
Workers responded to the incident from various offices, including GUPD and the local fire department, according to The Midnight MUG barista Ellie Farrell (COL ’22), who was working at the coffee shop when the elevator broke.
“There were multiple police officers, probably five or six, on both Lau 2 and 3 shouting and knocking on the elevator and a fire truck in the parking lot for at least an hour,” Farrell wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It looked like there was a hole in the wall on Lau 3 it was scary.”
Despite the disruption, normal library activities were only affected for a short time Tuesday, according to Marhanka.
“The second public elevator had to be turned off for about 15 minutes while the fire department and the technician assessed the situation and worked to open the door of the broken elevator,” Marhanka wrote. “During that short period of time, library patrons had to use the stairs. The 2nd public elevator has been operational except for that brief period of time it was turned off.”
The latest elevator malfunction comes less than a month after malfunctions in a Harbin Hall elevator led the car to drop and trap a first-year student for almost two hours. After arriving at the scene and rescuing the student, facilities determined that an improperly functioning governor’s switch caused the accident. When it works correctly, an elevator’s governor’s switch is a safety measure that triggers brakes if the elevator accelerates to an unsafe speed.
Students in Reynolds Hall and Darnall Hall also complained about persistent elevator issues in November 2018. Elevators in both buildings dropped and trapped students inside. These past elevator issues have since been resolved, and elevators across campus are working normally.
However, the majority of facilities issues reported on campus are not elevator malfunctions. Students reported that mold in their dormitories made for unsafe living conditions, and 84 residents on the top floor of Alumni Square dormitories were relocated due to water damage in Alumni Square’s roof.
The university takes care to prepare for possible elevator malfunctions, according to Kuo.
“We have processes in place to rapidly respond to out of service elevators and work to resolve issues as quickly as possible,” Kuo wrote. “The time to repair and service elevators varies depending on what mechanical or electrical issues are present.”
Kuo added that the rest of Lauinger’s elevators are operating normally and safely.
“While the damaged elevator temporarily remains out of commission, all other elevators in Lauinger remain safe and operational,” Kuo wrote. “We encourage any community members to report any issues or concerns to Facilities Management.”