A 19-year-old student-athlete has died in an elevator accident after the car fell and was trapped between two floors of an Atlanta, Georgia apartment complex.
JauMarcus McFarland, 19, was trapped between the second and third floors for more than an hour after the car malfunctioned and fell on him as he got off.
McFarland was a student at Champion Prep Academy – a school that bridges the gap between high school and college and helps students prepare academically and athletically for higher education in a one-semester program.
Friends blame the condition of the elevator in the building at 444 Highland Avenue, which is partly used for student housing.
But the building’s manager, Nathan Phillips, insisted the car was overloaded with 16 people.
JauMarcus McFarland, 19, was a soccer star at the Champion Prep Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, before he was killed in a freak elevator accident on Tuesday
McFarland and 15 other students stuffed themselves into an elevator in their dorm room when students reported it felt like it started falling before they normally stop on the third floor, according to News Channel 21. McFarland and two others exited the elevator, but before he could get out all the way, the elevator started moving again and the ceiling crushed it, trapping him between the elevator and the third floor
He said the group exceeded the weight limit, causing a “domino effect” that caused the elevator to fall. They claim the car was £1,000 over the £3,000 limit.
Phillips told WLTX“Unfortunately, this seems to have been the knock-on effect of the events leading up to the unfortunate death of this young man.
“This is a terrible tragedy and we are all very saddened that this has happened.”
A witness reported that the elevator started to feel like it was in free fall before stopping normally on the third floor, according to News channel 21.
McFarland lived in the 444 Highland Avenue building (pictured) at Champion Prep Academy, a school that bridges the gap between college and high school by helping students prepare academically and athletically in a one-semester program
Three students immediately exited the elevator, including McFarland, but before he could fully exit the elevator began to fall again, trapping him between the shaft and the two floors, News Channel 21 said.
A student told police the summit had collapsed and crushed McFarland, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Six students called the Atlanta Police Department around 3 p.m. Tuesday to report that McFarland was in custody, the paper said.
“The elevator just smashed into these footballers and they need someone here on the third floor,” one caller said in tears.
Dispatchers learned that McFarland was unconscious during the call. His feet were visible from the second floor as they hung from the ceiling and his torso was trapped between the elevator and the third floor, a police report said.
Firefighters worked for an hour to free McFarland, who had a weak pulse but was not alert, officials said.
The soccer star was taken to Atlanta Medical Center. While there, he went into cardiac arrest and died.
After the incident, a student living in the same block of flats as McFarland shared a photo with News Channel 21, which showed the elevator being a year overdue for inspection. The due date was August 2020.
A map in the elevator showed that the last time the elevator was inspected by the municipality in August 2019.
The last inspector also reported that the elevator was missing an anti-rotation device on the counterweight and the car. It is unknown if this issue has been resolved.
State officials say elevators should be inspected annually, but it’s up to building management to call state inspectors to set up an inspection.
A student sent a photo to News Channel 21, which showed the elevator was a year past the inspection date and the last time it was inspected was in August 2019. The state of Georgia requires elevators to be inspected annually, but it is planning inspections to the building management
The latest inspection indicated there were operational issues with the elevator, including the phone not working and an anti-rotation part missing
However, building management said the elevator had recently been serviced and hadn’t had a re-inspection in years.
Students have been complaining about operational problems for some time, according to the New York Post.
“We knew something like this would happen one day. We didn’t know it would cost the life of one of our teammates,” a teammate told the Post.
McFarland’s coach Michael Carson was devastated when he learned of his player’s death.
“One minute we’re preparing to travel to Arkansas—we’re traveling later that same day—and then you get a call that a kid is trapped. It’s devastating. It’s a devastating loss to our program,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
McFarland’s parents travel to Atlanta from his hometown in Missouri, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover the costs of getting McFarland back home and to help cover the funeral expenses.
As of today, more than $5,000 has been off the $20,000 goal.