BETHESDA, Md. — The Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled around 69,000 home elevators Tuesday, citing child entrapment hazards.
In 2017, the Hartz family visited a home in Little Rock, Arkansas, that had an elevator installed for an elderly relative. Two-year-old Fletcher Hartz pushed the elevator button. He was out of his parents' sight for just a few minutes. Fletcher closed the door behind him, getting stuck behind another elevator door.
"We were trying to get him out. And so we pushed the button. So the door would open and at that point, it had homed to the second floor in all the chaos of him being in there, it came down and crushed … At that point while we were standing there. He got silent immediately," said mother Nicole Hartz.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, says 22 people have died in home elevator accidents since 1981. Most of them were children. More have suffered life-altering injuries.
“We wanted to make sure that everybody who has them, takes a look in their home, sees if this gap exists, and if there is, do the very simple fix of getting it done," said CPSC chairperson Alex Hoehn-Saric.
These aren’t just old elevators. WUSA9 shot video of a newly-installed elevator in 2019. It’s from the Savaria Corporation, costing between $20,000-$35,000. Models recalled include elevators installed as recently as last year.
Savaria and two other elevator companies, Bella and Inclinator, wrote in a statement, “We are pleased to be working with the CPSC on this recall, in which we are providing free space guards where needed to increase the safety of our residential elevators.”
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION OF ISSUE; CHILD NOT ENDANGERED
"[The CPSC is] working with elevator companies to get them to do the voluntary recalls. We’ve gotten four of them total. We’re announcing three today. We’ve had to sue one of them. That litigation is ongoing. And for a fifth one, we’re warning consumers about it," Hoehn-Saric added.
"I think that was just the most unbelievable thing I found out after Fletcher's accident was that this was a known problem. It was known how to fix it. And nobody had even told us," said Nicole Hartz.