“Good Samaritans” Prying Open Elevator Doors

Because he’s the hero Houston Club deserves, but not the one it needs right now… Sam Barraza that is.

It was a slow news day here in Houston when video of a bunch of people frantically shoving a pole into the hoistway doors of an overloaded elevator that had overshot the first floor a couple feet showed up. During this brave rescue attempt, Sam Barraza put his 300-lb body into action and broke the doors open¬†heroically¬†saving those being tortured inside. Well, they were standing still for 5 minutes, it can get old I guess. It looks like it was overloaded. The elevator braking system did exactly what it was designed to do in case of overload – it safely lowered and held the car. A17.1 requires the brake to be tested with 125% of capacity and that the car should run on normal operation from an “upper landing” (any landing above the lowest landing) to the lowest landing. The driving machine must safely lower, stop, and hold the car with this load. Exactly what this over-exerted elevator did. A17.2 actually says that the elevator is not required to attain rated load performance (leveling) under overload conditions.

Oh yeah, the news guy contacted mi madre and quoted her around the 2:50 mark.

Of course those from the industry cringe when we see “good samaritans” pry open hoistway doors to free passengers when the elevator is not at the landing. So many things could go wrong. The brake could release, the elevator could take off, etc. In this case, the interlock looks like it was torn from the door and may have remained electrically closed, but you have the gate switch which theoretically would have stopped the car if it decided to go somewhere. Either way, it’s never a good idea for the general public to go on rescue missions – especially when the only danger to those inside is a leg cramp or something.


  1. elevator cable says:

    Thanks for sharing that post.

  2. Elevators Bangalore says:

    very interesting…

  3. Mit1020selevators says:

    That was dumb to pry the doors open!! They could of called a elevator guy that HAD A DROP KEY!!! Hate it when that happens!! People even say “that’s the right way to do it!”, Its not!! THE RIGHT WAY is a drop key!!!!!!!


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