A New York woman who works for a couple that owns a five-story Manhattan townhouse walked into the elevator for the townhouse on Friday night. The elevator got stuck, the couple was gone for the weekend, and the woman was trapped in the elevator for three days until she was rescued on Monday.
It isn’t clear yet what caused the elevator to break down, or why it apparently wasn’t equipped with a call button that would allow the trapped woman to summon help. She also apparently did not have a cell phone that could could have used for that purpose, either.
Unlike a prior incident of a person being trapped in an elevator for hours, there’s no video footage of the elevator interior that would show how the woman passed the time. According to a report of the incident in the New York Times, the woman, whose name is Marites Fortaliza, was conscious and calm when she was finally removed from the elevator and taken to the hospital, and a relative of the townhouse owners who accompanied her to the hospital said she was “doing well.” That probably means that Ms. Fortaliza had at least some water with her in the elevator, because three days without any water would run a serious risk of dehydration.
It probably also means that Ms. Fortaliza isn’t a claustrophobic, for whom three days trapped in a tiny, broken-down townhouse elevator would be one of the worst imaginable fates. If you’ve ever been with someone with claustrophobic tendencies in an elevator that experiences any kind of unexpected pause, or bump, you have seen their look of abject terror at even the thought of being stuck in such a small space — and that’s in an elevator in a commercial building, which probably is larger than the elevator in a New York townhouse. In fact, fear of being trapped in a stuck elevator must be pretty common, because a Google search yields lots of articles giving you instructions on what to do if it happens to you. One thing is certain: no claustrophobe would emerge from three days trapped in an elevator looking “calm.”
What’s your worst nightmare? Whatever it is, remember — you should always keep your cell phone charged, and on your person.