I-TEAM: More than 30 calls in 3 years to repair elevators at senior high-rise

Motor and transmission replaced in elevator that 'failed' in June, HUD says

VIDEO: The News4Jax I-TEAM is digging deeper after the elevator at a high-rise senior community failed, sending one person to the hospital.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An elevator that "failed" at a high-rise senior community in downtown Jacksonville, sending one person to a hospital, is working again, a spokesman for the Jacksonville Housing Authority told the I-TEAM on Wednesday.

It was not the first time the JHA, which manages Centennial Towers, tried to fix one of the elevators in recent years, records show.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials said the motor and the transmission were replaced in the elevator at the 14-floor apartment building that they said "failed" last month. 

RELATED: 1 taken to hospital after elevator 'failed' at senior community, I-TEAM learns

The I-TEAM obtained a JHA incident report, in which witnesses describe “the elevator doors got stuck and residents were trapped inside.” According to the report, a person called 911 for assistance, but before they arrived, the elevator began working again and went to the first floor. The report states one of the people on the elevator reported being hurt and rescue “transported him to the ER.” 

Another person on the elevator reported that the elevator started to close in on the person who said he was injured and he bumped into the wall. The witness said, at that time, the elevator “did a drop motion and stopped and the doors would not close.” The person said, “It didn’t actually fall.” 

The elevator malfunction on June 26 was the latest in a string of issues with the elevators over the last three years, records show.

The I-TEAM found, in the last three years, maintenance records show more than 30 calls to repair one of the elevators when they were broken or stuck. 

Samuel Vick, who lives on the second floor, said he’s experienced getting stuck on the elevators at Centennial Towers.

"I been stuck in there twice," Vick said. "When it’s hot, I sit down. You can’t do nothing but sit down and take it easy until they get you out of there."

Vick said he tries to avoid the elevators if he can, but fears for those in wheelchairs who have no other choice. 

"They in trouble," he said. "They can’t walk and they are way up there." 

JHA spokesman John Finotti sent a statement early Wednesday evening with answers to several of the I-TEAM's questions:

"Centennial Tower, which is 40 years old, will receive planned total rehabilitation in 2020, including new elevators. Residents had the option to attend one of two meetings on Tuesday, 3/26/19 at 12 Noon and 5 p.m. to learn about the renovations. Residents will be temporarily relocated based on the scheduled scope of work. 

"We are deeply concerned with the welfare of all our residents and employees, and as such we have and will continue to utilize a very reputable elevator company to provide monthly maintenance, which includes a diagnostic test for the entire system. We believe the elevator is in good service. 

"We monitor our elevators activity daily to determine if any course of action is needed to ensure continued safe use.  We have a very reputable elevator company that provides monthly maintenance, which includes a diagnostic test for the entire system. Whenever necessary repairs or replacement parts are needed JHA handles immediately.  JHA has on-call service 24 hours a day to address any maintenance issues."

About the Author:

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.