Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Little Boy Stuck in an Elevator

A scary thing happened on Monday night. Jackson, my 4-year-old (you can see his take in the short video below), got stuck by himself in the elevator in our building.

He rides the elevator all the time by himself, so when he and I walked into the lobby, he went left to take the elevator up three flights to see mommy while I went right to put my bike away on the racks. I climbed the stairs to our place, said "hi" to Rachel, and asked her where Jackson was. She hadn't seen him, so I headed back to the elevator. Still no Jackson.

I went back downstairs and it looked like one of the two elevators wasn't working. I called out his name and heard a little whimper behind the elevator door, "I"m in the elevator, daddy."

It was a heartbreaking sound, but I jumped into action pressing every button in the lobby and the other elevator. My neighbor Ed walked around the corner and helped with calling the emergency number in the other elevator while I talked to Jackson through the door.

He said he was OK, that the overhead light was on, and that none of the buttons were working or lighting up. Jackson was beginning to get worked up and clearly scared. He said to me that he was going to pee in his pants. I then told him to take his shorts down and pee in a corner. My finest moment in elevator-emergency coaching!

I then told him to sit tight and ran out into the courtyard to yell up to Rachel to call 911, which seemed even more important since the emergency line in the other elevator had only called the elevator company and they were pretty non-committal on giving an estimated time of arrival.

A sizable group of neighbors had now gathered outside the elevators to lend support, and the fire department arrived in about five minutes. They had some big keys that they used to open the door. I started to tell one of the firemen to watch where he was stepping into the elevator, but I was not quick enough, as his foot went directly into Jackson's substantial pee pool. I figured I'd not mention it to the wet-footed fireman.

More importantly, Jackson stepped right out and was gathered into mommy's arms. He was clearly shaken, after being trapped for about 15 minutes, but was still able to thank the fire people and display his enthusiasm for the cool fire trucks parked out front. All in all, he was rel trooper through the ordeal.

I worked with the elevator repairman when he showed up about 45 minutes after the elevator company had been called. He spotted the malfunction right away and assured me that Jackson hadn't done anything wrong (Jackson is, after all, a pro elevator operator by now) and that it was the luck of the draw and that the next person to get in would have been stuck, no matter whether it was an adult or child.

Definitely the scariest thing to happen as a parent yet! Although Jackson apparently told a pretty good rendition of the story to his classmates the next day, so at least he got a good story out of the deal. And some candy too, of course.


  1. What a great story and such a brave little boy.

  2. I might have not been this brave, at age 88! Good for Jackson.

  3. I heard the story from one of his classmate. Scary. Well done to all of you.

    Our old dog once froze outside our elevator after I went in and hit the button for our floor. Door started to close, I turned around (still holding the leash) and our dog sitting patiently outside the closing door. Elevator starts to go up with me in it, holding his leash as it wheels open; and he outside and getting farther away. Crazy scary. Everybody was ok in the end.

  4. The elevator repairman had some wild stories about people getting trapped. It probably does not happen all that often, just often enough to make it a little scary.