Probe continues into cause of elevator problems at Tower of the Americas

Cause of elevator malf­unction unknown, no injuries reported

SAN ANTONIO - Investigators continue to look into what caused an elevator inside the Tower of the Americas to become stuck, trapping 16 people nearly 750 feet off the ground.

San Antonio firefighters were called to the scene, in the 600 block of Tower of Americas Way, after 9 p.m. Thursday, nearly an hour after the elevator first malfunctioned.

They said they found 16 people inside the elevator, which had stopped about 8 feet short of the top landing.

"From the mood of the people up there, it seemed like they were not bothered.  I mean, seriously. They all seemed in good spirits.  It didn't seem like they anybody was frightened or anything,” said San Antonio Fire Battalion Chief Armando Perez.

Firefighters used two ladders to rescue the people, Perez said. The last person emerged from the elevator just before 10:30 p.m., about two hours after the ordeal began, he said.  

“They were very well taken care of. The restaurant up there fed them all,” Perez said.

None of the people trapped in the elevator would talk to reporters. One of them confirmed that they had been instructed not to talk to the media.

Perez said the length of time it took for the rescue is not that unusual. Firefighters are usually called in as a secondary source of help, he said.

"The elevator company is given an opportunity to respond out here, and they actually hadn't arrived on scene,” Perez said. “So once they don't arrive on scene, then we take over. But that's pretty standard operating procedure."

Perez said, as of 10:30 p.m., no one from the company that maintains the elevators in the tower had responded to the call.

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