A 65-year-old grandmother, Gloria Rodriguez, fell to her death down an elevator shaft at the hotel where she worked as a housekeeper, leaving family members asking questions about the historic San Antonio Hotel Crockett’s elevators.
At first there were no clear explanations. There are theories floating around about what happened – but the dominant one is that the elevator car became stuck while traveling to the floor Gloria was on. Even though the car never arrived, the doors opened. As many housekeepers do, Gloria would have backed into the elevator pulling her cart – with every reasonable expectation that the car was there. In this instance, it was not.
How does an accident like this occur? The hotel had their elevators inspected annually so what happened?
A 2008 inspection of the elevator showed that a key safety feature was missing from the elevator called a “door restrictor.” It prevents the elevator doors from opening when the elevator is stuck between floors. It keeps people from falling down the elevator shaft or from being injured if the elevator starts moving as an occupant tries to climb out.
Now the hotel manager, William Brendel, admits that he’s not sure if the safety restrictor was installed even though he wrote a letter to the state claiming he was going to install one in 2009.
The chief inspector for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are still looking into the incident, but so far it’s looking that hotel manger’s forgetfulness may have caused a long-time employee and laughter-filled grandmother’s death. Other employees had been stuck in the elevator before, but no one had taken action.
Hopefully, the family will get the answers there looking for and the hotel or other responsible parties will be held accountable for this avoidable disaster by OSHA or liability attorneys.
Employer’s like Brendel are supposed to take the safety of their workers and customers seriously. Safety is not something that should be put off or forgotten about. If safety obligations are not being met, be the person who speaks up and has officials investigating before someone gets seriously injured or killed.