|By Phil Watson, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
July 3, 2004 - A Wyoming man is suing a Myrtle Beach hotel for injuries he says he received when an elevator he was riding in fell 12 floors.
Joseph Hill, 29, of Evanston, Wyo., was vacationing in Myrtle Beach on Oct. 6, 2001. He says he got on an elevator at the Tropical Winds Motor Inn at 705 S. Ocean Blvd., and it fell for several seconds, severely injuring him.
"I don't know if the cable snapped or if a computer overheated. ... It was the most terrifying experience of my life," Hill said.
As a result of the fall, Hill says he had cerebral hemorrhaging, seizures, back pains and hip problems.
Depositions started in federal court in Florence Wednesday, Hill's attorney Karolan Ohanesian said.
The lawsuit, which claims both the Tropical Winds Motor Inn and Thyssen Dover Elevator company were negligent, will go before a jury sometime late this year.
Tropical Winds general manager Ricky Floyd had no comment on the case. Thyssen Dover Elevator branch manager Dean Brooks also declined to comment.
Hill claims the injury took him away from his job as a furniture mover for two years.
There have been few injuries in South Carolina elevators in recent years, said Duane Scott, administrator for the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation's office of elevator inspections.
He said it is nearly impossible for elevators to fall because of devices on them called governors that stop the elevator if it starts to fall.
Elevators are inspected annually. Scott said inspectors check things like governor speed, door speed, emergency telephones, control room security and door locks.
For an elevator to fall fast enough to seriously injure someone would be unlikely, he said.
"It is very uncommon. We have very [few] accidents that have been reported to us," Scott said.
If an elevator seriously injures or kills someone, the owner of the building has to notify the Department of Labor Licensing by the end of the next business day, S.C. Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokesman Jim Knight said.
The accident Hill claims injured him was not reported to the Department of Labor Licensing, Knight said.
At least 10 more depositions will be taken by the federal court in Florence before the trial starts, Ohanesian said. If Hill wins, a jury will decide the amount of money he gets.
"I have yet to step on another elevator," Hill said.
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