7-Year-Old Dies in Vacation Home Elevator – Thousands Recalled

Consumer protection officials announced a recall of thousands of elevators a year after a 7-year-old boy died getting trapped in one on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

In July 2021, 7-year-old Weston Scott Androw died when he become trapped “between an elevator car and the elevator shaft” inside his family’s vacation rental in Corolla on the Outer Banks, according to WBNS. First responders found the boy, who was from Ohio, trapped in the elevator without a pulse, according to the Associated Press.

They were able to free the boy but weren’t able to revive him.

Now, state and national officials are taking steps to increase the safety of residential elevators and reduce risks to children.

Safety measures

In July, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed “Weston’s Law,” requiring owners of rental homes with elevators where a large gap exists between the floor and the elevator to cover it with a barrier, according to WRAL. The law will take effect on Oct. 1.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced on Sept. 29 a recall of elevators produced by Cambridge Elevating, a company based in Ontario, Canada, and Custom Elevator, based in Pennsylvania.

The elevator involved in the death of Weston on the Outer Banks was manufactured by Custom Elevator, the agency said.

In a statement, Custom Elevator said that it was cooperating with the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall, but that the hazard lies when construction of the elevators is not performed up to accepted standards.

“Moreover, even if an elevator installation(‘)s subsequent construction conforms to code with regard to door space, young children can become entrapped in the space between the exterior door… and the interior elevator door or gate,” the statement says.

The company said that installing “space guards” would help reduce the risk of children becoming trapped.

Representatives with Cambridge Elevating did not respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment.

At least 41 deaths associated with elevators have been reported between 2018 and 2021, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Between 2020 and 2021, more than 19,000 people were treated for elevator-related injuries in an emergency room.

“It’s long past time for all homeowners to address the hazard and ensure that children cannot get trapped between elevator doors, particularly in homes that are used as vacation rentals, by families who may not be familiar with elevators,” Alex Hoehn-Saric, chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in a statement. “A joyful family vacation can turn tragic in an instant, so we are calling on all vacation rental owners, managers, and platforms to do their part to help keep their guests safe.”

Between 2021 and 2022, 117,100 elevator units across the country have been recalled, the agency said.

Weston Androw

Weston “loved fishing, swimming, the ocean, being outside, and debating everything,” according to his obituary. “ He loved to make people laugh with the “many faces of Weston” and always said he had the most special family.”

His aunt wrote on his obituary page that she had many special memories with her nephew.

“I remember blanket forts and building towers,” she wrote. “I remember his curious explorations. I remember holding him in my arms and making silly faces at each other. I remember the way his smile, as only Weston could smile, lit up his face and then the room.”

When Gov. Cooper signed “Weston’s Law” in July, Weston’s mother said in a statement that she hoped the new safety measures would prevent a similar tragedy in the future, according to WRAL.

“It means so much to us that our voices and the voices of other parents who have been crying out for something to be done about this problem, are finally being heard,” Timeka Androw said in a statement, according to the outlet. “I hope that Weston’s Law will inspire other legislators and the residential elevator industry to take action and end this problem once and for all.”

Madeleine List is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter. She has reported for the Cape Cod Times and the Providence Journal.

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