At luxury building where tenant was crushed to death by elevator, there were signs of trouble

One elevator in the building had been shut down in May

FDNY members at the elevator in 344 Third Avenue (Credit: FDNY via Twitter)
FDNY members at the elevator in 344 Third Avenue (Credit: FDNY via Twitter)

A 30-year-old man was crushed to death by an elevator Thursday morning in a Kips Bay luxury apartment building called “Manhattan Promenade.”

The New York Times was the first to report that a man, later identified as resident Samuel Waisbren, was caught between the lobby and the basement floors at 344 Third Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

In May, the city’s Department of Buildings shut down one of the building’s two elevators due to a door zone restrictor — a device that prevents elevator doors from opening between floors — that had been “tampered with” and was “rendered inoperable,” according to agency records. The cease use order was lifted June 3. A DOB official told The Real Deal that the elevator involved in Thursday’s incident wasn’t the same elevator that had issues in May.

Robert Kalimian’s ATA Enterprises owns the building, which was constructed by his family’s company in the late 1990s, records show. He didn’t immediately return calls and emails seeking comment on the incident.

The most recent records available on the DOB’s website indicate that Fujitec America is the last company to test the building’s elevators in 2018. A representative for Fujitec couldn’t immediately be reached on Thursday.

According to DOB records, the two elevators are up-to-date on their required annual tests and category 5 tests, though there’s some discrepancy in how the devices are identified in the agency’s records. Both elevators are due for the CAT 5 — which tests the full-weight capacity of an elevator every five years — this year. According to a Philadelphia Inquirer story from June, Fujitec was the company that serviced an elevator that trapped 14 people for three hours on the 37th floor of a high-rise in Center City.

DOB indicated that it’s still investigating the incident from Thursday.

Earlier this year, the state legislature approved a measure that requires elevator mechanics to be licensed. Similar measures had repeatedly been introduced since 2011 but didn’t manage to make it to the Senate floor.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

By signing up, you agree to TheRealDeal Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

A six-month investigation by The Real Deal, published in January, highlighted the at-times poor enforcement of city safety standards and the discrepancy in training among elevator mechanics. The report also revealed that at least 22 people were killed in elevators in New York City from 2010 to 2018, and 48 more seriously injured.

Ashley McHugh-Chiappone contributed additional reporting.

Correction: A earlier version of this story, based on conflicting license numbers listed in DOB records, misstated who performed the latest tests on 344 Third Avenue’s elevators.

Search by your address on The Real Deal’s exclusive interactive map to see any elevator-related violations lodged with New York City’s Department of Buildings since the 1980s.

(Map created by Yoryi De La Rosa)