The child was stuck between the two doors of an elevator, and first responders were able to free him, but he had sustained "traumatic injuries" by then.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 15, 2021. It has since been updated.
A family's vacation plans came to a standstill after their 7-year-old died in a tragic accident. According to PEOPLE, the young boy was killed in a residential elevator accident in North Carolina on July 11, their first day of the vacation.
The child was visiting the Outer Banks from Canton, Ohio, when the tragic accident took place. Emergency personnel was called to the residence—on Franklyn Street in the Corolla Light neighborhood— at around 7 pm about a boy who got stuck in the elevator, Wavy reported.
When they arrived at the scene, they learned that the boy was trapped between the elevator car and the elevator shaft which was inside the house. Despite trying their best, officials could not resuscitate the boy. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Boy, 7, Dies After Being Crushed by Outer Banks Vacation Rental's Elevator: 'Terrible Tragedy' https://t.co/huAdILEyVd— People (@people) July 15, 2021
Corolla Fire Chief Rich Shortway told The Washington Post they found the boy "trapped between the bottom of the elevator car and the home's upper door frame."
"It's just such a terrible tragedy," he added.
"We are not sure exactly how it happened," Currituck County Fire-EMS Chief Ralph Melton told The Coastland Times. "The child was entrapped in the doors. We were able to free him, but his head and neck were crushed by the elevator and he died as a result of traumatic injuries sustained in the elevator mishap Sunday night."
Melton then added that there have been several close calls in the district previously, but this was the first time there was a fatality.
Our home elevator’s accordion door won’t close if there’s anything blocking it and there’s a safety lock that won’t allow the elevator to move to another floor in the home if both doors aren’t closed. Why don’t all home elevator companies do this???— February’s Finest (@DojaGatita) July 14, 2021
Meanwhile, The North Carolina Department of Labor does conduct inspections on elevators, but inspections are only completed on new installations or when there are changes made to existing equipment.
Despite an ongoing investigation into the matter, the incident "appeared to fit a pattern of children being crushed by residential elevators after they get trapped in the space — just a few inches — between the two elevator doors," per The Post. One door moves with the elevator while the other remains stationary, but both doors lock when the lift moves up and down.
Apparently, this particular safety hazard is something the elevator industry always knew about; they also know the solution to it, one that is rather inexpensive: a $100 plastic or foam insert to block the gap. Unfortunately, industry officials have not made any calls to enforce these safety improvements, arguing to federal regulators that the problem was complicated and not their responsibility, according to a 2019 Washington Post investigation.
In 2019, the CPSC issued a safety alert about “a deadly gap between doors of home elevators.”
“CPSC is aware of several tragic incidents in which children became entrapped between the doors leading to death, serious fractures, traumatic asphyxia, and lifelong injuries,” the agency said at the time, adding that the “dangerous gaps” can be remedied by using space guards or installing an electronic monitoring device to detect when a child is in the gap, per Fox5.
Cover Image Source (Representative): Getty Images | Ned James / EyeEm