Lefrak Officials: Elevator Deaths Are 'Tragic Accident'
Officials at Lefrak Management, the firm charged with overseeing maintenance of elevators at the Lefrak City apartment complex, said last week that the recent deaths of two young men were a "tragic accident" and not the result of negligence on the part of the management company.
Half-brothers Julian Jones, 25, and Leslie Jones, 23, plummeted 11 stories to their deaths on February 3 after they got into a violent argument outside an elevator in a building at 96-04 57th Ave., authorities said. The pair was caught on a surveillance camera at about 5 a.m., "shouting and bouncing into the door of the elevator during the argument", police sources said. Officials believe the half-brothers bumped into the elevator door, knocking it open.
The two men plunged to their deaths down the elevator shaft, police said. Their bodies were discovered 12 hours later, when an anonymous caller notified building maintenance that there was a body in the shaft and residents called to complain about a door that had dislodged from its track.
Authorities are trying to determine the identity of the first caller by listening to a tape of the call. Neither of the victims lived in the complex, authorities said.
Sources at the city Department of Buildings (DOB) said this week that a device designed to keep the elevator door in place failed in a 2006 inspection.
DOB inspectors cited the elevator on January 16, 2006, after they discovered "worn gibs", the sources said. Gibs are mechanisms that rest in the saddle below the elevator door to keep the door from opening, the sources said. DOB inspectors cited the same elevator in April 2005 for dirty conditions in the shaft and cab, the sources said.
Sources said the February 3 incident was not the first time someone died after hitting an elevator door at the Lefrak City complex.
In 2001, Patrick Fanor, 14, tumbled seven floors to his death after he hit an elevator door at a Lefrak City building, the sources said. Investigators determined at that time that Fanor, while wrestling with friends inside the elevator, struck the door with such force that he knocked it off its track, the sources said.
DOB inspectors who checked the elevator after the 2001 incident said it did not show any signs of hazardous conditions.
The city Medical Examiner ruled on February 4 that the deaths of Julian and Leslie Jones were accidental.
A DOB spokesperson said the elevator gibs passed a follow-up inspection in October 2006, the last time the elevator was inspected.