Brooklyn Boy, 5, Dies in Fall Down Elevator Shaft

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The New York Sun

A 5-year-old Brooklyn boy died yesterday morning when he fell 10 stories down an elevator shaft, fire officials said.

The boy, Jacob Neuman, of 70 Clymer St. in Williamsburg, was on his way to school with his 8-year-old brother, Israel, when the elevator they were riding in became stuck between the 10th and 11th floors.

Police said the doors of the elevator began shuddering and that Israel started pressing the elevator buttons. The elevator door then opened, although police said it was unclear whether it opened on its own or whether it was pried open by one or both of the boys. Jacob, who had apparently become agitated, then crawled out from the floor of the elevator, and jumped onto the 10th-floor landing, where he lost his footing and fell down the elevator shaft, police said, at least a 100-foot drop.


Police said they received an emergency call at about 9 a.m. and that Jacob Neuman was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to Brooklyn Hospital.

Residents of the apartment building, part of the Taylor-Wythe housing complex, which is run by the New York City Housing Authority, said the elevator has been plagued with problems.

“Every other day the elevator is broken,” one of the boy’s neighbors in the building, Pessie Gelb, said. “We keep telling people that it’s broken and that older and injured people need it. We’ve requested many times that they fix it. But they don’t.”


Another resident of the building, Chaya Mandel, said: “This happens to me at the elevator — I open the door and there’s no elevator.”

The Teamsters Local 237 is responsible for the maintenance of the elevators, its president, Gregory Floyd, said. Mr. Floyd said a lack of federal funding had made work on the elevators difficult. “The Teamsters work with what they are given,” he said. “And they are not given enough.”

Records on the Web site of the New York City Department of Buildings show that eight complaints have been lodged with the department about the elevator since 1999, the most recent of which was received on January 21, under the category “defective/inoperative.” Three other complaints that fell under the same category were lodged in 2007.


A spokesman for the New York City Housing Authority, Howard Marder, said in a statement: “All of the New York City Housing Authority joins with the Neuman family as we mourn today’s tragic loss of their son Yakov at Taylor-Wythe Houses. Our condolences and our prayers are with them. The circumstances of this tragedy are under review by a team of agencies including the Housing Authority.”

Ms. Gelb said there is a strong sense of community in the building, many of whose residents, including the Neumans, are chasidic Jews. “We are very good to each other in this building,” she said.

She described the Neuman family as quiet and said Jacob and Israel Neuman had three older sisters. Jacob and Israel were close, she added. “You’d always see the two of them together,” Ms. Gelb said.

Jacob Neuman was buried yesterday in the village of Kiryas Joel, a chasidic Jewish community in Monroe County, Ms. Gelb added.

When told by The New York Sun of the concerns residents had about the elevator, Mr. Marder said: “I am not going to deal with anecdotal stories.”

The New York Sun

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