Duquesne students report elevator troubles

Maggie Gates | Staff Photographer
An elevator on the 12 floor of St. Martins.
Maggie Gates | Staff Photographer  An elevator on the 12 floor of St. Martins.
Maggie Gates | Staff Photographer

An elevator on the 12 floor of St. Martins.

Raymond Arke | Asst. News Editor

Elevators play a major role in transporting students up and down Duquesne’s hilly campus. Getting stuck in one, however, could really ruin your day — just ask Steven Yost’s family.

Last week, on Sept. 26, the elevator in the Forbes Garage got stuck on the fifth floor. Yost, a sophomore pharmacy major, was waiting to meet up with his parents to attend the Pirates game.

“They got on the elevator in the parking garage and ended up getting stuck inside for an hour and fifteen minutes,” Yost said.

To make the stressful situation worse, they missed the beginning of the game.

“My father had box tickets for the game, so you could imagine the anger that my family and I shared after the unfortunate elevator event,” he said.

Yost said a Duquesne Police officer drove his family to the game once they were freed.

Yost and his family were disappointed that Duquesne’s maintenance employees on campus were unable to remedy the problem.

“[Maintenance staff] had to wait an hour for the elevator company [representative] to come with the keys to the elevator,” he said.

Bill Zilcosky, director of building services, said the elevators are maintained by Schindler Elevator Service, a professional company that specializes in elevator and escalators. This means Schindler was responsible for fixing the issue. The extended wait, Zilcosky said was due to “the call [coming] in after normal operating hours.”

Maintenance staff members stayed with the family throughout the process.

“Our maintenance group responded and stayed in contact with the elevator [occupants] until the Schindler technician could return to campus, which is our normal protocol,” Zilcosky said.

Miah Dunkleberger, a sophomore integrated marketing communications major, was stuck in the Locust Garage elevator last year. Attempts to use the call button failed, she said.

“The call for help button didn’t work, luckily I had my phone,” she added.

The incident occurred as Dunkleberger was headed to her work study job.

“I had to call my boss and have her get ahold of someone who could come get me out,” she said. Luckily, help came within 15 minutes.

Rodney Dobish, assistant vice president and chief facilities officer at Duquesne, said such incidents are relatively rare.

“Duquesne University operates 86 elevators in approximately 50 buildings across campus. Entrapments can happen from time to time for varying mechanical, safety and user-related reasons. We’ve documented 22 cases since August, which is on average compared to the same time period in prior years,” he said.

Dobish believes the elevators are well-maintained.

“The elevators are inspected twice each year — in August and in February — by an independent contractor, as mandated by the state of Pennsylvania,” he said.

The inspections are a thorough review of the elevator’s operation.

“As part of the inspection, that inspector verifies that all mechanical and safety features are working properly and orders any repairs if necessary,” Dobish added.

Dobish said Schindler helps perform maintenance on the university’s elevators and often has a technician on campus.

“Schindler maintains a presence on campus to evaluate the elevators, respond quickly to service calls and provide reliable, safe and responsible resolutions to operational and safety concerns,” he said.

Schindler could not be reached for comment.