This is the stuff nightmares are made of. An elevator plummeted more than 80 floors in a Chicago skyscraper. Miraculously, no one was injured.
It happened this past Friday in Chicago's iconic John Hancock Center. A hoist rope broke; and the elevator, with passengers inside fell from the 95th floor to about the 11th floor. According to Chicago's CBS station, what saved the passengers from certain death was the simple fact that there are multiple hoist ropes on an elevator. And it's designed to ensure that even if one breaks, the others should be able to hold the load. #Engineering
Eventually, the elevator came to a stop between floors and the passengers were rescued.
But imagine how terrifying this experience must have been. Jaime Montemayor was visiting from Mexico and told WBBM-TV: "I believed we were going to die..."
You might wonder how you'd even know that an express elevator going down has problems. The passengers described the elevator going even faster than they expected, followed by a loud clanging and then dust particles entering the elevator.
Something was definitely wrong!
When the elevator finally ground to a halt, the ordeal wasn't over. They didn't know where the elevator had stopped and couldn't tell anyone, except to say they'd been on the 95th floor. The elevator had to be located by rescue workers, which involved drilling. Once located, they had to tear out a wall.
Of all the various types of transportation we use, we don't often think much of the lowly elevator. It's sole purpose is to take us upstairs and downstairs. But when we ride one, we're getting into a tiny cab that's hanging by several ropes. We're fine, as long as they don't break. Elevators in Chicago must be inspected annually, by law, and this one had been inspected in July,
I've ridden my share of creaky elevators, not all of them in the United States. I actually stayed on the 9th floor at a Soviet era hotel in Eastern Europe. Every ride up was a tense moment. Especially when a few more passengers piled in. It's in those moments you realize how much faith with put in engineering. It's also comforting to know there are so many redundancies in elevators.
In any event, this story had a happy ending. And according to one elevator passenger, it's really "a beautiful view" at the Signature Room bar on the 95th floor. So... there's that.
[Thumbnail Image via Wikipedia, E. Kvelland]