An investigation into a deadly elevator accident has brought disciplinary actions against several NYC Housing Authority employees, however elected officials are questioning if still more needs to be done.
According to a NYC Department of Investigation, the fatal elevator accident in a NYCHA building on Christmas Eve that claimed the life of Boston Road Plaza resident Olegario Pabon was the result of a communication breakdown within the agency.
A DOI report that dealt with the matter was released on Friday, April 15.
Pabon was riding in an elevator in the senior citizen complex at 2440 Boston Road on December 24, 2015 and died when it lurched and he suffered a fatal head injury, according to published reports.
Five NYCHA employees, some of whom had been informed of the elevator problems hours before the tragedy occurred, were reassigned.
Another employee who was head of the NYCHA elevator division has been relieved of his duties, according to the agency.
Councilman Ritchie Torres, chairman of the City Council Public Safety Committee, is planning hearing on the DOI findings and NYCHA’s overall elevator safety.
“The DOI demonstrates the negligence of the New York City Housing Authority had a role in in a fatality of one of its residents,” said Torres. “There is no greater responsibility that a landlord has than to protect its tenants, and NYCHA failed in that respect.”
The councilman said information has emerged showing that the lift where the death happened had a disconnected brake monitor.
Had the brake monitor been maintained, said Torres, the tragedy would have never occurred. He questioned the apparent lack of training and maintenance procedures when it comes to these monitors.
The upcoming hearing will focus on systemic issues that need to be corrected, rather than on personnel changes, he said.
There was no on-site superintendent for the building when the tragedy occurred, and there still is not, said Councilman James Vacca.
Vacca visited the building and met with tenants when word came of the NYCHA personnel changes and findings.
“Tenants are pleased that NYCHA took this action, but tenants in this building have been complaining to NYCHA for years about constant elevator breakdowns,” said Vacca, adding that he knew Pabon from when the councilman helped form a tenant association in the building.
The councilman said he is demanding superintendents be placed at 2440 Boston Road and at 3033 Middletown Road, another NYCHA senior complex in his district.
Boston Road Plaza tenant Carmen Taveras, who lives on the 14th floor, said many of her neighbors in the high-rise are still scared to take the elevator where the accident occurred, with some avoiding it altogether.
“Now NYCHA does not wait for us to call, and they come and check (the elevator), said Taveras. “But it is very sad that it had to happen because he was such a good person.”
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio