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New York man crushed to death after apartment building elevator malfunctions

A 30-year-old software salesman died when the elevator he was stepping out of dropped without warning.
/ Source: TODAY

A New York City man was killed on Thursday morning when an elevator in a luxury apartment building malfunctioned, crushing him between the car and the shaft.

Sam Waisbren, 30, was trying to exit the elevator in the lobby of the 23-story Manhattan Promenade tower when the car suddenly fell on him, officials said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

"As he was exiting, the car moved, trapping the patient," New York City Fire Department Chief Anthony Arpaia told reporters.

Building surveillance video obtained by the New York Post showed another man exit the elevator just before it malfunctioned. Waisbren tried to pull himself out just as the elevator plunged into the basement, pushing him into the shaft. Bystanders in the lobby, including the man who exited, can be seen reacting in horror.

Six other people were on the elevator, but no other injuries were reported. Five of them remained on the elevator car after it malfunctioned.

Sam Waisbren, 30, was killed when an elevator in a Manhattan high-rise apartment building malfunctioned. TODAY

"Some people were still left down in the car after it moved down in the basement,” Arpaia told the New York Post. "The FDNY had to work really hard to get the car moved."

That elevator had not been the subject of any formal complaints in recent years, although the building's other elevator was cited for problems in May.

"They're always down, people are getting stopped - honestly it's just all about safety,'' resident Dayna Sargen told reporters outside the building Thursday. "I don't know if I'll feel comfortable putting my kids in an elevator here again.

Residents said the elevators at the 23-story Manhattan apartment building had issues in the past. TODAY

"It’s sadly not shocking and sad that it wasn’t addressed sooner,'' she continued. "A life could have been saved. It shouldn’t have to take someone dying to have a management company realize there’s an issue with our elevators."

Waisbren was originally from Wisconsin and moved to New York City five years ago. He lived in an apartment with his girlfriend and worked in sales for a software company.

"Fantastic boy, he was full of life,'' his heartbroken father, Charles Waisbren, told reporters. "Very, very sensitive and conscientious, fun-loving, and just a million friends. Everyone loved him."

His father also noted that there were consistent issues with the elevators in the building.

TODAY reached out to the building's management but did not receive a response.

The New York City Department of Buildings said in a statement that it is "investigating this incident aggressively and will take all appropriate enforcement actions."