A 19-year-old student-athlete has died in an elevator accident after the car dropped and he was pinned between two floors at an apartment complex in Atlanta, Georgia.
JauMarcus McFarland, 19, was pinned between the second and third floor for more than an hour after the car malfunctioned and fell on to him as he stepped off.
McFarland was a student at Champion Prep Academy – a school that bridges the gap between high school and college and helps prepare students academically and athletically for higher education in a one-semester program.
Friends have blamed the condition of the elevator at the building at 444 Highland Avenue, which is partially used for student housing.
But the building’s manager Nathan Phillips insisted that the car had been overloaded with 16 people.
JauMarcus McFarland, 19, was a football star at Champion Prep Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, before he was killed in a freak elevator accident on Tuesday
McFarland and 15 other students crammed themselves into an elevator in their dorm building when students reported it felt like it was beginning to freefall before stopping normally on the third floor, according to News Channel 21. McFarland and two others exited the elevator, but before he could get off completely, the elevator began moving again and the ceiling crushed him, pinning him between the elevator and the third floor
He said the group exceeded the maximum weight, causing a ‘domino effect’ which made the elevator fall. They claim the car was 1,000lbs over its 3,000lb limit.
Phillips told WLTX: ‘Unfortunately, this appears to be what started the domino effect of events leading to the unfortunate death of this young man.
‘This is a horrible tragedy, and it deeply saddens us all that this has happened.’
A witness reported that the elevator began to feel like it was freefalling before stopping normally on the third floor, according to News Channel 21.
McFarland lived in the 444 Highland Avenue building (pictured) at Champion Prep Academy, a school that bridges the gap between college and high school by helping student prepare academically and athletically in a one-semester program
Three students exited the elevator immediately, including McFarland, but before he could exit completely, the elevator actually began to fall again, trapping him between the shaft and the two floors, News Channel 21 said.
One student told police that the top had collapsed and crushed McFarland, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Six students phoned the Atlanta Police Department around 3pm on Tuesday to report that McFarland was trapped, according to the newspaper.
‘The elevator just smashed on these football players and they need somebody up here on the third floor,’ one caller said through tears.
Dispatchers learned that McFarland was unconscious during the time of the call. His feet were visible from the second floor as they hang from the ceiling and his upper body was pinned between the elevator and the third floor, a police report said.
The fire department worked for an hour to free McFarland, who had a faint pulse, but wasn’t alert, officials said.
The football star was taken to Atlanta Medical Center. While he was there, he suffered from cardiac arrest and died.
Following the incident, a student who lived in the same apartment building as McFarland shared a photo with News Channel 21, showing the elevator was a year past due for inspection. The due date was August 2020.
A card in the elevator showed that the last time the elevator had been inspected by the city was in August 2019.
The last inspector also reported the elevator was missing an anti-rotation device on the counterweight and car. It is unknown if this issue was fixed.
According to state officials, elevators are to be inspected yearly, but it’s up to building management to call state inspectors to set up an inspection.
A student sent a photo to News Channel 21, showing the elevator was past its inspection date by a year and the last time it was inspected was August 2019. The state of Georgia requires elevators to be inspected yearly, but it is up to building management to schedule inspections
The last inspection indicated that there was operationally issues with the elevator, including the phone not working and an anti-rotation part missing
Building management, however, said the elevator had recently been serviced and wasn’t due for another inspection for years.
Students have been complaining of operational issues for a while, according to the New York Post.
‘We knew something like this was going to happen one day. We didn’t know it was going to take one of our teammate’s lives,’ a teammate told the Post.
McFarland’s coach Michael Carson was devastated to hear about his player’s death.
‘One moment we are getting prepared to travel to Arkansas — traveling later that same day — and then you get a call that you have a kid trapped. It’s devastating. It’s a devastating loss to our program,’ he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
McFarland’s parents are traveling to Atlanta from his hometown in Missouri and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover the cost of getting McFarland back home and to cover the funeral expenses.
More than $5,000 has been of the $20,000 goal as of today.