Students were reeling from campus-alerts Wednesday about a female Cal State Long Beach employee who authorities said tried to flee a stuck elevator was crushed to death when it shifted. The university identified the victim in a statement Wednesday as Annette Lujan, 48, of Huntington Beach and said she was a nine-year employee of the university’s grants and contracts office. (View the statement in the gallery of images at right.)
City News Service reported that Lujan was the mother of two.
Due to "an apparent elevator malfunction" it stopped between floors, the university's statement said, and Lujan was attempting to get out of it when it moved.
A campus facilities management worker said "a handful" of people were trying to help her out of the elevator, her arms extended out the doors, when it suddenly dropped beneath her and she was fatally injured.
The student newspaper on campus, the Daily 49er, led coverage of the incident that included questions about the elevator's inspection history. LBReport.com followed up with revelations about specific inspections:
"LBReport.com is told by the state agency involved that the elevator in the CSULB Foundation building ...was inspected (along with three others in the building) on April 5, 2011. Elevators are required to undergo inspections annually, said Erica Monterroza, spokesperson for the CA Dept. of Industrial Relations and its inspection paperwork is up to date and in order. (Its next regularly scheduled inspection wasn't scheduled until April 2012)."
Most students on campus said they were aware of the tragedy but senior Brittany Graham described the incident as it was discussed in her 10:30 a.m. journalism class.
"A woman was stuck in the elevator trying to exit, with her arms through the door, when it dropped," said Graham, a double major who is graduating next week. "Then the elevator shifted and caught her from the waist down. And she was crushed."
Six other students repeated this same information as word of the horrible accident swept the campus.
CSULB's vice president of administration and finance, Mary Stephens, sent out a note Wednesday that's excerpted below:
Dear Campus Community:
I am very sad to inform you that this morning, due to an unfortunate incident at the Foundation Building, a member of our campus community has died. At this time, we are notifying family members and a complete investigation involving University Police and the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office has been initiated.
The university has endured a terrible tragedy today. I know all of us extend our deepest condolences to the victim’s family, friends and co-workers.
A counselor with the Employee Assistance Program is available for employees.
A woman who apparently tried to climb out of a stuck
elevator in a building at Cal State Long Beach today was crushed to death when
the machinery shifted, authorities said.
The accident occurred about 9 a.m. in the Foundation Building where the
victim worked, at Palo Verde Avenue and Anaheim Road, said Long Beach Fire
Department Capt. Rich Brandt. The woman, who was not immediately identified, died at the scene, Brandt said.
Authorities withheld her name pending notification of her relatives.
According to the preliminary investigation, the elevator had gotten
stuck between floors near the third floor of the building, and the woman tried
to climb out but was crushed when the elevator shifted, Brandt said.
A woman died today in an apparent accident in an elevator shaft in a building at Cal State Long Beach, authorities said. The campus' Daily 49er newspaper reports that she was a university employee and quoted a fire official as saying that the woman was crushed when she tried to escape the elevator as it was stuck between floors.
The accident occurred about 9 a.m. in the Foundation Building, at Palo Verde Avenue and Anaheim Road, according to the Long Beach Fire Department.
The woman, who was not immediately identified, died at the scene, the fire department reported.
The campus paper also said that the Foundation Building was closed and that police are directing traffic on State University Drive and Palo Verde Avenue.
City News Service contributed to this report.