A homemade elevator installed with the best intentions crushed a 66 year-old woman on Tuesday.
The elevator was built 17 years ago from a fork lift, wood and wielded metal which was located outside a three story home in in Weeki Wachi, Fla. The “lift” helped Jean Blair, who uses a motorized wheelchair, get around, WTSP reports.
While Blair’s husband and son were away, her best friend, Margaret Harrison, was supposed to stop by and keep her company. Blair sent the elevator to the first floor in anticipation of her friend’s arrival, but she never showed.
It was only when Harrison’s boyfriend came to the home did he find her underneath the elevator. She was unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
"I knew as soon as I saw her," Francis Jorr said. "She was blue already."
But her death remains a mystery. Investigators don’t suspect foul play, said the lift was working normally and there was no indication Harrison suffered a medical emergency. An autopsy confirmed that the elevator crushed her to death, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office said.
"They couldn't find anything wrong with it," Jean Blair’s husband, Robert, said about the homemade elevator he built. Blair, a retired engineer crafted the lift for his wife in the 1990s when he constructed the house. The old forklift is wielded to a concrete base that sits adjacent to the home. It is speed-controlled and can reach the first floor in 13 seconds, he said.
Florida law doesn’t require lifts in private homes to be inspected or require certifications. Blair didn’t have the required electrical permit and the elevator didn’t have any required safety switches either, authorities said. The elevator has since been shut down.
The elevator was "solidly built. But don't get me wrong. Obviously, I've got to do something to make it more foolproof," Blair told the Tampa Bay Times.
The couple said they received more than 60 sympathy calls two days since the accident. "We're Christians, and look forward to seeing her again," Blair said.