Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dan Kliman #3: Elevator Doors Should Never Open More Than 4 Inches

Dean Fryer, spokesman for the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health says the elevator doors in the Sharon building "should never open if they are between floors,”. However, the doors would have had to have been open wide enough for Dan Kliman to have squeezed through in the accidental death scenario hypothesized by the San Francisco police investigating the death of Dr. Daniel Kliman, MD. (Early posts on 1. the discovery of the death and concerns about Sharia Law here and 2. developing suspicions here.)

Here's the part of the new article from the San Francisco Examiner the focuses on the elevator issue:
Ed Donoghue, spokesman for the National Elevator Industry, said that there are a “number of incidents” each year when stranded passengers fall to their deaths after prying open elevator doors, especially in older models.

“We see instances where people try to slide out on their stomachs on the bottom of the cars,” Donoghue said. “And somehow the body gets underneath the car and falls down the shaft.”

Donoghue said there are no national statistics on falling deaths in elevators. He said in the mid-1980s, a national requirement was put into place to prevent elevator doors from opening.

Despite Donoghue’s assertions that these scenarios not only happen, but they do with some frequency, officials from the state agency that monitors elevators say it’s impossible to open the doors — if the machinery is functioning properly.

California’s elevator laws, which were established in 1989, stipulate that the doors cannot be opened more than 4 inches once the car is 18 inches above the landing, according to Dean Fryer, spokesman for the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health.

Although the elevators in the Sharon Building are more than 90 years old, they were modernized in 1976 and passed an annual safety inspection Nov. 4, according to Erika Monterozza, a spokeswoman for Cal-OSHA.

Cal-OSHA inspectors annually test elevators on their compliance with the law, and on Nov. 4, workers inspected the elevators at the Sharon Building, Fryer said.

During that test, inspectors stopped the elevators between every floor in the building, and at no time where they able to pry open the doors from the inside, beyond the mandated 4-inch gap.

“These doors should never open if they are between floors,” Fryer said.

He said his department would have a better idea of what happened once they get a chance to conduct their own investigation into the elevator.

The elevator at the Sharon Building is maintained by Kone Inc., a Finnish-based company that has offices in San Francisco. Chuck Moore, spokesman for the company, said Kone has not been allowed to inspect the elevator, and thus could not offer any comment on the case, other than to express condolences for Kliman’s family.

The San Francisco Police Department would also not comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

Kliman’s friend Dardik said the theory that Kliman pried himself out of the stalled elevator makes sense for two reasons. One was that Kliman tended to be an impatient person, and the second was the doctor’s formidable physical strength, which makes the scenario of manually prying open the door a possibility.

“It was late at night near the holiday,” Dardik said. “I’m sure he didn’t want to be stuck in there overnight. There is a chance he saw the landing and thought ‘hey I can do this.’”

Dardik said that Kliman’s laptop and a significant amount of cash were found at the scene — further indicating that his death was accidental.

Many other circumstances surrounding Kliman’s death are still outstanding.

Hat Tip: Zomblog

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