Death of child on Outer Banks leads to voluntary recalls by makers of residential elevators

The elevators are a common amenity found in larger vacation homes on the Outer Banks. [courtesy U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission/Youtube]

Following the death of a 7-year-old boy in a residential elevator in Corolla earlier last summer, three manufacturers have issued voluntary recalls and issued a warning to stop using elevators made by a fourth company.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the new steps on Tuesday “in its ongoing effort to eliminate deadly hazards from residential elevators”.

The recalls by Bella Elevator, LLC, Inclinator Company of America, and Savaria Corporation involve about 69,000 residential elevators.

Property owners and rental companies are asked to stop using products made by Waupaca Elevator Company, Inc., after it refused to cooperate with a recall, according to a news release.

Young children can become entrapped in the space between the exterior landing (hoistway) door and the interior elevator car door or gate if there is a hazardous gap, and suffer serious injuries or death when the elevator is called to another floor.

Children, some as young as 2, and as old as 12, have been crushed to death in this gap, suffering multiple skull fractures, fractured vertebrae and traumatic asphyxia, the commission said. Other children have suffered devastating and lifelong injuries.

Three children were entrapped in this way during the summer of 2021, including a child from Canton, Ohio who died at a home in the Corolla Light neighborhood on July 11.

Ten days later, the commission urged all vacation rental platforms, including AirBnB, Vrbo and property owners, to disable their elevators immediately and asked companies to notify renters of the potential hazards and have them inspected immediately.

While the N.C. Department of Labor is responsible for inspections of elevators in commercial and public buildings, the department does not have the statutory authority to inspect private residence elevators, according to a NCDOL spokesperson.

The latest actions follow a December 2020 recall of other residential elevators for the same hazard, as well as CPSC’s filing of a lawsuit against thyssenkrupp Access Corp. in July 2021 when the company refused to initiate a recall.

CPSC continues its investigation into the safety of residential elevators and advises consumers to report any safety incident involving residential elevators at

Regardless of whether you have an elevator in your home or are staying in a vacation rental with one, consumers are urged to check the safety of the elevator using the following tips:

  • Make sure that the gap between doors is no more than four inches deep. If you are uncertain of the measurement or are otherwise concerned about the safety of the elevator, lock the elevator itself in an unusable position, or lock all access doors to the elevator.
  • Have a qualified elevator inspector examine the home elevator for this dangerous gap and other potential safety hazards, inspecting to the latest ASME A17.3-2017, Safety Code for Existing Elevator and Escalators.
  • Dangerous gaps can be made safer by placing space guards on the back of the exterior (i.e., hoistway) door or installing an electronic monitoring device that deactivates the elevator when a child is detected in the gap.
  • Contact the elevator manufacturer or an elevator installer to obtain these critical safety devices to address this hidden hazard. Elevator installers should never allow any gap greater than four inches deep to exist in an elevator entryway.
  • Check to see if the elevator has been recalled. If it has been recalled, call the recalling firm immediately to arrange for the fix.
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