Mass. Inspector Finds No Fault With Allston Elevator in Death of BU Instructor

Carrie O'Connor is believed to have triggered a switch in the elevator while lifting a large package, allowing the elevator to move while the gate was open, according to a Massachusetts inspector's report

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An investigation into the death of a Boston University French lecturer in an Allston elevator last month has found no fault with the elevator.

The woman is believed to have triggered a switch in the elevator while she was moving a large box on Sept. 14, according to an incident report from the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Inspections obtained by the NBC10 Boston Investigators. The switch's activation allowed the elevator to move while the gate was open, leading to her being trapped.

The woman has previously been identified as Carrie O'Connor, who had also taught at several other schools in the area, but her name was redacted in the report. Her death shocked neighbors at the building on Commonwealth Avenue, who said at the time they heard horrifying screaming.

Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the accident, which claimed the life of a woman in her 30s on Monday in Allston.

The inspector found that O'Connor was trying to fit a 7-and-a-half-foot-long package that weighed just under 80 pounds into the elevator, which is a "bird cage" style lift that requires the occupant to close the gate manually, according to the report.

When the door is closed, it engages a switch that lets the equipment know the elevator car can move. The inspector saw video showing O'Connor trigger the switch with the package as she struggled to fit it inside the elevator, according to the report.

The elevator had been called to the basement, so it started to move when the package first engaged the switch, but O'Connor is seen losing control of the package and the elevator stops halfway between the first floor and the basement. The inspector reports that she repositioned herself, then lifted the package again.

Once again, the package triggered the switch and the elevator began its descent in the shaft. The inspector writes that, at this point in the video, O'Connor disappears from view meaning she fell backward into the elevator shaft. Firefighters found her pinned between the shaft and the elevator.

The elevator itself had recently been inspected and was certified for operation through the end of March, the inspector noted in the report.

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