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School elevator that injured three girls should have been fixed, officials say

As three girls who were trapped this week under an elevator at Classen School of Advanced Studies spoke about their ordeal, the district's superintendent said a door to the elevator that should have been locked was broken and should have been fixed, preventing the problem.
BY BRYAN DEAN and SILAS ALLEN Published: November 18, 2011

“The scream was mine,” Ambri said. “At first, when the elevator was coming down, I thought I was really going to die. After it smashed me, I realized we were going to be OK, but I was in a lot of pain.”

By the time the dispatcher answered the phone, the girls were lying on their backs overlapping each other as they tried to hold the elevator off.

Bars on the bottom of the elevator pressed against them. Ambri got the worst of it. A bar pressed into her left hip. She also injured two disks in her back as she pushed with all her strength against the elevator, leaving one of her legs temporarily numb.

Savanna's right foot was injured. Her leather boot was wedged between the elevator and the wall. The pressure left a dent in the back of the boot.

“My toes were really kind of crushed and bruised, and it's hard to walk,” Savanna said. “I was imagining a happy place.”

The girls waited 45 minutes as firefighters and an elevator technician worked to free them. Liz said she couldn't hold down her lunch.

“It was terrifying, so I was really nervous,” Liz said. “It was pressing down on my stomach, which helped too. And then it was also a tight, compacted space.”

Liz credited Savanna for keeping her calm.

“Savanna kept saying, ‘we're going to live, Liz. We're going to be OK,'” Liz said.

The girls said it was a relief when the elevator was finally raised off them, but the pressure was so great that they had trouble breathing for at least an hour afterward.

Springer said the district will take steps to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

In addition to looking at the elevator at Classen SAS, Springer said district officials are also examining elevators at other schools in the district.

Contributing: Staff Writer Tiffany Gibson