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Report says no malfunction in deadly Allston elevator accident

A photograph from the Office of Public Safety and Inspections' report shows the elevator stuck between the first floor of the building and the basement with the long package extending out.
A photograph from the Office of Public Safety and Inspections' report shows the elevator stuck between the first floor of the building and the basement with the long package extending out.Office of Public Safety and Inspections

A woman killed last month in an elevator accident inside her Allston apartment building fell into the shaft after a 7½-foot-tall package she was carrying twice bumped a switch that sent the elevator plummeting, according to a state inspection report.

Carrie O’Connor, 38, was a French language lecturer at Boston University. Her name was redacted throughout the report prepared by the state Office of Public Safety and Inspections.

The elevator at 1140 Commonwealth Ave. did not malfunction on Sept. 14, though the “emergency stop switch was not labeled at the time of the accident,” said the report, which was dated Tuesday. O’Connor’s death was caused by a tragic convergence of circumstances, according to the report, which was signed by Inspector Martin Guiod.

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Video from the building shows O’Connor moving a long, tall package into the elevator. The package measured 1 foot by 6 inches by 7½ feet. Writing on the box indicated that it weighed almost 80 pounds and that more than one person was required to lift it, according to the report.

An unidentified man who lived in the building helped O’Connor manually open and close an exterior grate on the “bird cage”-style elevator, which is about 60 years old, according to the report. The man then left the area with the interior gate still open.

While O’Connor was inside the elevator, a maintenance person in the basement pressed the call button, signaling the system to send the elevator down as soon as the car gate switch indicated that the interior gate was closed, according to the report.

As O’Connor struggled with the package, video shows, it bumped the car gate switch, and the elevator began to descend with the interior gate open to the elevator shaft. O’Connor then lost control of the box, it slipped off the switch, and the elevator stopped, according to the report.

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O’Connor then lifted the package again, once more bumping the switch, and she disappeared from view on the video, indicating “that she had fallen backwards into the hoistway between the 1st floor and basement floor,” the report says.

Her body was found pinned between the elevator and the wall of the shaft, according to the report.

“Based upon my technical inspection, my investigation, and my observation of the video, there is no indication that any malfunction occurred with the elevator,” Guiod wrote. “It is my conclusion that the elevator was operating as designed.”


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.