Elevator-Related Deaths

Joseph A. Prahlow, Zuhha Ashraf, Natalie Plaza, Christopher Rogers, Pamela Ferreira, David R. Fowler, Melissa M. Blessing, Dwayne A. Wolf, Michael A. Graham, Kelly Sandberg, Theodore T. Brown, Patrick E. Lantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Elevators are mechanical transportation devices used to move vertically between different levels of a building. When first developed, elevators lacked the safety features. When safety mechanisms were developed, elevators became a common feature of multistory buildings. Despite their well-regarded safety record, elevators are not without the potential for danger of injury or death. Persons at-risk for elevator-related death include maintenance and construction workers, other employees, and those who are prone to risky behavior. Deaths may be related to asphyxia, blunt force, avulsion injuries, and various forms of environmental trauma. In this review, we report on 48 elevator-related deaths that occurred in nine different medicolegal death investigation jurisdictions within the United States over an approximately 30-year period. The data represents a cross-section of the different types of elevator-related deaths that may be encountered. The review also presents an overview of preventive strategies for the purpose of avoiding future elevator-related fatalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-832
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • death
  • death investigation
  • elevator
  • forensic pathology
  • forensic science
  • injury prevention
  • Multiple Trauma/mortality
  • Age Distribution
  • Accidents, Occupational/mortality
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Male
  • Cause of Death
  • Young Adult
  • Risk-Taking
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Electric Injuries/mortality
  • Child
  • Elevators and Escalators
  • Asphyxia/mortality
  • Occupational Health
  • Accidents, Home/mortality
  • Accidental Falls/mortality
  • Crush Injuries/mortality
  • Drowning/mortality
  • Substance-Related Disorders/complications
  • Adolescent
  • Sex Distribution
  • Aged

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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