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NYCHA fires the head of its elevator division following fatal elevator accident scandal

A few days after a DOI investigation revealed that NYCHA knew about faulty elevators that killed a resident and injured another, the NYC Housing Authority announced that Ken Buny, the head of the elevator division was fired. Five NYCHA employees who failed to communicate that the elevators were malfunctioning were also reassigned. They are all facing disciplinary charges that could also result in firing. (Read more in the NY Daily News)

The investigation revealed that NYCHA knew about the faulty elevator before the fatal accident happened but because of a communications  breakdown nobody went to fix it.  On December 24 2015, the NYCHA’s Customer Contact Center (“CCC”) received a phone call from a resident at the  NYCHA’s Boston Road Plaza senior building in the Bronx to inform them about a very dangerous malfunctioning elevator. NYCHA didn’t take immediate action to put the elevator out of service. An hour and half  later, 84 year old Olegario Pabon was critically injured when the elevator drifted upward as he was trying to get in. He died 3 days later from his injuries.  The investigation also found that the NYCHA senior management learned about the accident four days later. Another man was seriously injured in a similar accident that happened in another NYCHA building less than a month before.

In both accidents, the DOI found that brake monitors that should have automatically shut down the elevators were not functioning. After this discovery the DOI checked the 1,080 NYCHA elevators equipped with brake monitors and found that 80 (more than 7%) of them were not functioning.

Additionally even though Ken Bunny was an expert representative on the committee that proposes City elevator safety laws he never complied with the 2014 revision to the City Building Code requiring property owners  to install physical tags to document annual inspection and maintenance of elevator braking systems.

Several additional communication issues and missteps were found during the investigation. The complete report can be downloaded here