MIDTOWN EAST — The building where Young & Rubicam executive Suzanne Hart was crushed by an elevator Wednesday will be closed for the rest of the week while the accident is investigated, building officials said Thursday.
Department of Buildings workers streamed in and out of the tower block, at 285 Madison Avenue, throughout the day. Police said there didn't appear to have been any criminality involved in the tragedy.
Hart, 41, director of new business and experience at the firm, was stepping on to the elevator at about 10 a.m. Wednesday when the elevator lurched up with its doors open, trapping her between the car and the lobby walls. She died instantly, while two people inside the elevator watched in horror.
Hart, a California native who moved to New York after graduating from Knox College in Illinois, joined Y&R in 2007. Her job involved attracting new clients.
Y&R, which owns the 85-year-old building, ordered all of its employees across several sister agencies to work from home for the rest of the week. The Department of Buildings later closed the building as investigators pieced through the wreckage to try to figure out how it happened.
They could be seen working on the elevator behind a temporary barricade throughout the day Thursday.
One of Hart's co-workers stopped by to take a look, and talked about what an "amazing" woman she was.
"She was always happy, always smiling, always greeting people," said the collegue, who would not give his name. "She was just lovely. It’s a huge loss."
The building, near East 40th Street, has been cited dozens of times in the past years for problems with its 13 elevators, according to Department of Buildings records. The elevator that killed Hart was cited for a hazardous violation in 2003 that had been corrected, a DOB spokeswoman said.
The elevator was last inspected in June, but no safety concerns were found at the time, the DOB said.
An elevator company was called to do some work at the building on Tuesday and returned early Wednesday, a law enforcement source said. But the reason for the work was not immediately clear.
Hart’s death raises another potential problem for Y&R, which is planning to move to a more modern building on Columbus Circle. Y&R is reportedly looking for a buyer for its current home, and the accident would make the building less desirable to potential buyers.
Y&R employees were told not to talk publicly about the mishap. CEO Peter Stringham issued a brief statement saying the firm was “deeply, deeply saddened” about Hart’s death.
"The focus at this moment is the well being of our employee’s family and our larger Y&R family.”