Madness: Trapped in Elevator Car 30

Madness: Trapped in Elevator Car 30

In a New Yorker Magazine article by Nick Paumgarten that described a number of stories about elevator horrors and dangers, he recounted the harrowing experience of Nicholas White, a special assignment employee who worked in the mid-town Manhattan offices of Business Week magazine.

Nicholas White was a thirty-four-year-old production manager at Business Week. He was working late on a special assignment and wanted a cigarette. He told a colleague that he’d be right back and, leaving his jacket behind, headed downstairs. Thus commenced the longest smoke break of Nicholas White’s life, a harrowing experience that began at around eleven o’clock on a Friday night in October, 1999.

The Business Week offices were located on the forty-third floor of the McGraw-Hill Building in mid-town Manhattan. When White finished his cigarette, he returned to the lobby, got into Car No. 30 and pressed the button marked 43. The car accelerated. It was an express elevator, with no stops below the thirty-ninth floor, and the building was deserted. But after a moment, White felt a jolt. The lights went out, immediately flashed on again and then the elevator stopped.

The control panel made a beep, and White waited a moment, expecting a voice to give information or instructions, but none came. He pressed the intercom button, but there was no response. He hit it again, and then began pacing around the elevator. Time passed, although he was not sure how much, because he had no watch or cell phone. He occupied himself with thoughts of remaining calm and decided that he’d better not do anything drastic, because, whatever the malfunction, he thought it unwise to jostle the car. As the emergency bell rang and rang, he began to fear that it might somehow start a fire. Recently, there had been a small fire in the building, rendering the elevators unusable. He began hearing unlikely oscillations in the ringing: aural hallucinations. Before long, he began to contemplate death.

The most striking thing about the security-camera videotape of White’s time in the McGraw-Hill elevator is that it includes split-screen footage from three other elevators, on which you can see men intermittently performing maintenance work. Apparently, they never wondered about the one he was in. Eight security guards came and went while he was stranded there, and nobody seems to have noticed him on the monitor.

After a while, White imagined building staff members opening the elevator’s doors ten days later and finding him dead on his back, like a cockroach. Within hours, he had smoked all his remaining cigarettes. At a certain point, he decided to open the doors. He pried them apart and held them open with his foot. He was presented with a cinder-block wall on which, perfectly centered, were scrawled three “13”s-one in chalk, one in red paint, one in black. It was a dispiriting sight. He concluded that he must be on the thirteenth floor, and that, this being an express elevator, there was no egress from the shaft anywhere for many stories up or down. He peered down through the crack between the wall and the sill of the elevator and saw that it was very dark. He could make out some light at the bottom. It looked far away. A breeze blew up the shaft.

He started to call out. “Hello?” He tried cupping his hand to his mouth and yelled out some more. “Help! Is there anybody there? I’m stuck in an elevator!” He kept at it for a while. White opened the doors to urinate. As he did so, he hoped, in vain, that a trace of this violation might get the attention of someone in the lobby. He considered lighting matches and dropping them down the shaft to attract notice, but still had the presence of mind to suspect that this might not be wise. The alarm bell kept ringing. He paced and waved at the overhead camera. He couldn’t tell whether it was night or day.

Eventually, he lay down on the floor and tried to sleep. The carpet was like coarse AstroTurf, and was lousy with nail trimmings and other detritus. It was amazing to him how much people could shed in such a short trip. He used his shoes for a pillow and laid his wallet, unfolded, over his eyes to keep out the light. It wasn’t hot, yet he was sweating. His wallet was damp. Maybe a day had passed. He drifted in and out of sleep, awakening each time to the grim recognition that his elevator confinement had not been a dream. His thirst was overpowering. The alarm was playing more aural tricks on him, so he decided to turn it off. Then he tried doing some Morse code with it. He yelled some more. He tried to pick away at the cinder-block wall.

At a certain point, Nicholas White ran out of ideas. Anger and vindictiveness took root. He began to think, They, whoever they were, shouldn’t be able to get away with this, that he deserved some compensation for the ordeal. He cast about for blame. He wondered where his colleague was, why she hadn’t been alarmed enough by his failure to return, jacketless, from smoking a cigarette to call security. “Whose fault is this?” he wondered. “Who’s going to pay?” He decided that there was no way he was going to work the following week.

And then he gave up. The time passed in a kind of degraded fever dream. On the videotape, he lies motionless for hours at a time, face down on the floor. A voice woke him up: “Is there someone in there?” “Yes.” “What are you doing in there?” White tried to explain; the voice in the intercom seemed to assume that he was an intruder. “Get me the fuck out of here!” White shrieked. Duly persuaded, the guard asked him if he wanted anything. White, who had been planning to join a few friends at a bar on Friday evening, asked for a beer.

Before long, an elevator-maintenance team arrived and, over the intercom, coached him through a set of maneuvers with the buttons. White asked what day it was, and, when they told him it was Sunday at 4 P.M., he was shocked. He had been trapped for forty-one hours. He felt a change in the breeze, which suggested that the elevator was moving. When he felt it slow again, he wrenched the door open, and there was the lobby. In his memory, he had to climb up onto the landing, but the video does not corroborate this. When he emerged from the elevator, he saw his friends, with a couple of security guards, and a maintenance man, waiting, with an empty chair. His friends turned to see him and were appalled at the sight; he looked like a ghost, one of them said later. White told a guard, “Somebody could’ve died in there.” “I know,” the guard said.

White had to go upstairs to get his jacket. He went home, and then headed to a bar. He woke up to a reel of phone messages and a horde of reporters colonizing his stoop. He barely left his apartment in the ensuing days, deputizing his friends to talk to reporters through a crack in the door. White never went back to work at the magazine. Caught up in media attention, which he shunned but thrilled to, prodded by friends, and perhaps provoked by overly solicitous overtures from McGraw-Hill, White fell under the sway of renown and grievance, and then that of the legal establishment.

He got a lawyer, and came to believe that returning to work might signal a degree of mental fitness detrimental to his litigation. Instead, he spent eight weeks in Anguilla. Eventually, Business Week had to let him go. The lawsuit he filed, for twenty-five million dollars against the building’s management and the elevator-maintenance company, dragged on for four years. Eventually, they settled for an amount that White is not allowed to disclose, but he will not contest that it was a low number, hardly six figures.

He never did learn why the elevator stopped. There was talk of a power dip, but nothing definite. Meanwhile, White no longer has his job, which he’d held for fifteen years, and he’s lost all contact with his former colleagues. Now, he’s also lost his apartment, spent all of his money, and searched, mostly in vain, for paying work. White is currently unemployed.

Madness: Trapped in Car 30

Read more on Nicholas White’s ordeal and about other tales of dangerous elevator experiences in The New Yorker here.

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130 Responses to “Madness: Trapped in Elevator Car 30”

  1. Dr X Says:

    That is something!

  2. Wayne Says:

    That’s unbelievable. What type of security do they have in that building to not know who is in the building and where. Do they even train them, or do they just get a badge and a flashlight.

    Secondly what type of lawyers do they have a McGraw. He tell him to go to work would effect the outcome of his compaint. So how much did these cockroaches take from the top, I reluctantly use that term out of respect for cockroaches. He could have taken the slow elevator to as far as it went and climb the stairs the rest of the way. He could have never entered an elevator without company for fear of being stuck in an elevator again. There are loads he could have done to demonstrate his fear of elevators and still made a paycheck. What a bunch of goombahs

  3. Rakkar’s Blog » Blog Archive » Trapped in an elevator and our entitlement society Says:

    […] story about A guy trapped in an elevator for 41 hours. Security guards took that long to notice him, and then tell him what buttons to press to get the […]

  4. hairypotter Says:

    very strange this story. 41 hours in an elevator without ever needing to poop or piss? I don’t buy it.

  5. Kelly Says:

    That sounds like a Stephen King novel.

  6. Dubleelevatordore Says:


    Read the article.

    He pissed down the elevator shaft.

    And a man could stand 41 hours w/o poopin.

  7. Dubleelevatordore Says:

    In re Stephen King novel.

    Did you ever read Gerald’s Game? It’s like a much, MUCH crappier version of Misery.

    Basically a girl gets hand-cuffed to a bed. Then nothing happens for 300 pages. Then she gets free. King should be ashamed his name is attached to that novel.

  8. raincoaster Says:

    hairypotter obviously does not read for comprehension. And he doesn’t know much about business journalists: they do not poop, just ask!

    Poor guy obviously was done in by the situation; he needed a better lawyer.

  9. Hermione Says:

    @hairypotter: Did you read the article? Allow me to quote..
    “White opened the doors to urinate. As he did so, he hoped, in vain, that a trace of this violation might get the attention of someone in the lobby.”

  10. Dubleelevatordore Says:


    Did you read the article responses?

    I have already corrected young Hairypotter.

    Also, I just realized my name is Dubleelevatordore, as opposed to Dumbleelevatordore. Doh.

  11. L Says:

    The video evidence does indeed show him climbing out of the elevator. While not far, it appears to be about half a meter.

  12. Romeo Vitelli Says:

    More proof that smoking is bad for your health.

  13. LO Says:

    why did he sue. what an idiot.

  14. The Ultimate Insult | Blog Archive | Elevator Car 30 Says:

    […] Car 30 Being trapped in an elevator for 2 days sounds like it might be insanity […]

  15. Friday Linkage » One risk you run as a smoker that they never told you about Says:

    […] This chap was stuck in an elevator for 41 hours. He took the lift for a ciggie break, and on his way back up it got stuck. He was in an express elevator midway between stops. No watch, no phone, no stuff…nothing. I think I would have gone insane. The story is interesting, and there’s a time-lapse film from CCTV. The astounding thing is the maintenance guys working in the other lift…didn’t they consider the alarms might be coming from the one lift they hadn’t tried yet? […]

  16. hURRLey - i am social bookmarking! Says:

    […] | incoming hURRLs | getting started | FAQ | blog Voila, the hURRL you reqested …1 hURRLs – Madness: Trapped in Elevator Car 30 « Et Cetera: Publi […] (first hURRLed by mmathias @ 1 minute ago /// permalink) mmathias says:”This is crazy! The […]

  17. | politics and world news Says:

    Man trapped in elevator for 41 hours. It ruined his life. (time-lapse video) |…

    \r\nNicholas White was working on an assignment at Business Week and wanted a cigarette. He went dow…

  18. Harry Potter's Peter Says:

    I was just wondering why everyone here likes Harry Potter so much.

  19. Wangus Says:

    I bet if he lit up a smoke in the elevator they’d have been on him in 45 seconds and have him arrested…

  20. john smith Says:

    I think it sucks that he got stuck but… Then he over-reacted and sued and blamed the world and lost his job.. For what?? Less than a day and a half in an elevator.. He should have gathered himself before reacting and thought about the consequences.. But as usual, greedy guy had to sue for $25 million.. To me, that’s the shocking part..

    • lalal Says:

      clearly someone can’t do the math. a day and half would be 36 hours…he almost was stuck in that elevator for 2 days.

  21. Winslow Theramin Says:

    I don’t care about smokers. The more they suffer the better the world is.

  22. Sytrik Says:

    How serial killers are born.

  23. Wangus Says:

    Glad to see you have your priorities in order Winslow…

  24. Man trapped for 41 hours in elevator | Kremer's Stuff Says:

    […] Nicholas White went out for a cigarette break. He spent 41 hours trapped in elevator car 30. He lost his apartment and job. Here is the full story with video. […]

  25. Matt Says:

    Sad and made even more sad by making another mistake.

  26. Mary Says:

    I am glad he sued.

  27. Simpathizer Says:

    Wangus, it says he smoked the whole pack in a few hours

    I think his reaction was justified from his point of view, I would feel the same anger and resentment to whoever could be responsible. He could have handled it better, maybe by getting the media on his side, but it’s obvious that he was mentally distraught, I know I would have been.

  28. amandzing Says:

    bugger. moral of the story? never carry anything less than a full pack of smokes all the time….

  29. lwayswright Says:

    I was trapped in an elevator for about 7 hours once several years ago. It was a really awful experience. I didn’t sue however. I was just really happy to be let out of the tiny cubicle that was closing in on me more and more by the minute. 41 hours is a little long, and with no one checking on it that’s a bit more extreme so who knows what I may have done at that point.

  30. Fark Says:

    John Smith says … ‘Less than a day and a half” .. no he spent 41 hours.. not less than 36 hours. Mind you with no water, no food and no ventilation. 25 Million is over the top.. but if you factor in Lawyer costs that take about 60% of the earning.. I think a million would have been ok. After costs he would have ended up with 400,000 .. that seems fair. Mostly because of the gross incompetence of the security staff and potential faulty equipment in the elevator (intercom button). How in the hell did no one notice this guy on the CCTV. We are talking almost two days. Had it taken another 24 hrs to notice him “missing” he could have likely DIED from lack of water.

    He got screwed, none the less he should have continued working if he could have. However, when legal advice is given for you not to goto work.. its hard to know what the right thing is to do, or whats in your best interest.

  31. Tim Says:

    I was trapped in an elevator in my office building on a weekend for almost 9 hours. I liked to come in to catch up because NOBODY was around. I’d just come back from lunch and was on my way back up to my floor with the intention of using the restroom before heading back to my office and the elevator just stopped between 2 floors. There was no phone, the emergency call button just crackled, and there was no camera. About 8 hours later a guard decided to make his rounds and he heard me. When the fire department finally came and got me out, the EMS guys were trying to ascertain that I was ok and I pushed them away and RAN to the restroom… I had a large coke at lunch that was making my life miserable!

    I couldn’t imagine being trapped in one for 2 days. To this day I refuse to get in that elevator. I know that isn’t I feel for the man.

  32. Charlie Says:

    Judging from what I’ve read, I would’ve gone ABSOLUTELY BALLISTIC at the elevator guys who didn’t do they job properly. 41 hours trapped in a tiny box without any viable means of getting out, without anything to drink. You’d have had to hold me down because I’d probably have tried to kill them, though perhaps he would’ve felt the same if he wasn’t so malnourished & dehydrated.

  33. john smith Says:

    Good for you for not sueing lwayswright. People who sue for garbage reasons make me sick.

  34. Dillard Says:

    Yet another reason to stop smoking!

  35. warren Says:

    what law firm did he use?
    dewey cheatum and howe?

    that case looks like one gigantic slam dunk.

  36. ripht Says:

    Why did he sue!? This was a clear case of negligence on behalf of the building ownership. 41 HOURS! Not even an apology or emergency personal present when they finally got him out! What if he had a medical condition??

    I don’t believe the guy over-reacted at all. They stole his TIME and TIME = MONEY, how much is your time worth? They also stole his dignity, how much is your dignity worth? I’d say 25 million was nothing.

    Unless you’ve had some level of training to handle this sort of situation, I defy anybody to spend 41 hours in a box and not come mentally shaken. Grow a conscience.

  37. » going up? Says:

    […] like this one make me want to take the stairs from now […]

  38. kitzdunphy Says:

    So he got trapped in an elevator for 41 hours? Big effn deal… come back when something REAL happens in your life. As for suing? How about taking some responsibility for your own life for once and not always trying to be a victim and blame someone else. There are people out there with real struggles and disabilities who have difficulties doing the day to day stuff we take for granted. Who can they sue? God?
    Get a life…

    • lalal Says:

      true, but try spending 41 hours in a box and tell me how you feel.

    • Nataruma Says:

      Imagine if he had a health condition like someone mentioned before, and required medication, or any number of things he couldn’t have gotten? Also, three days without water for a human being is life-threatening, that’s a big effn deal, to quote you. He could have died if that dragged on for just one more day. It’s not needless drama, he could have died, anyone could have died, just because people didn’t do their jobs properly. He had every right to feel upset and sue. If you were placed in a potentially life-threatening situation, you’d feel exactly the same, and you would be justified in seeking compensation for the negligence.

  39. THE LETTER R Says:

    i was once stuck on an esalator it was terribad we all had to get out of the ordeal w/o any help from any rescue team or any1 step after step i thought i was going to go insaine!!!!!!!

  40. BEERORKID » guy trapped in elevator for 41 hours Says:

    […] But I bet this guy hates them more than I do. Eventually, he lay down on the floor and tried to sleep. The carpet was like coarse AstroTurf, and was lousy with nail trimmings and other detritus. It was amazing to him how much people could shed in such a short trip. He used his shoes for a pillow and laid his wallet, unfolded, over his eyes to keep out the light. It wasn’t hot, yet he was sweating. His wallet was damp. Maybe a day had passed. He drifted in and out of sleep, awakening each time to the grim recognition that his elevator confinement had not been a dream. His thirst was overpowering. The alarm was playing more aural tricks on him, so he decided to turn it off. Then he tried doing some Morse code with it. He yelled some more. He tried to pick away at the cinder-block wall. […]

  41. cartoonguy Says:

    Could have been worse if the guy needed daily medication of any type. (Insulin, high bloodpressure meds, etc.)

  42. Damien Says:

    Hairypotter: I held my poop for a whole week when I was in the army, on a field training week.
    When I finally got to a toilet it was like heaven (smelled like hell though…)

  43. Anne Says:

    Off topic kinda, anyone know what song is used in the time lapse video?

  44. Shane Says:

    If he had been diabetic, he’d have been dead. I applaud him for litigating, this is exactly the kind of situation where the building owner should be held accountable.

    25 million? Maybe not. I’d have settled for anything more than a couple hundred thousand to help pay off my mortgage and make my life a lot more comfortable and take a vacation to help get over the ordeal. Lesson learned, I suppose. He’s broke and jobless, now. He’s the classic ‘victim’. Oh poor me, my life is destroyed because I thought I was gonna die.

  45. A3 Says:

    Off topic – anyone know what song is used in the time lapse video?

  46. D Says:

    That was one of the most horrible things I’ve ever seen. The music didn’t help. I picture anyone I love in this situation and I start to get emotional. Very difficult to watch the whole thing but to see him get out was necessary. At hour 4 I was like OMG. And all those people whizzing in and out of the other elevators not knowing but certainly they would have helped if only they knew.

    As for the snarky smoking comments…

    It was not smoking that got him in that fix, he took a “short-cut”. So the lesson is “Don’t take short-cuts”, not “Don’t smoke”. Both are very good messages; only one of them specifically applies to this man’s dilemma.

    What is the point of all that surveillance if no one is actively checking it?

    • Devin Says:

      It’s nice to see that humanity still exists and that empathy isn’t compleley dead. I agree 100 percent. I’ve seen many a jaw dropping video, but this was one of the hardest to watch for me. I’m still a little creeped out by the thought.

  47. BeltFed Says:

    kitzdunphy – you are a mouth breathing idiot.
    It would be my pleasure to lock you in a 6x8x8 box for 24 hours with no contact and no water to see how you’d react.
    Without a doubt, you be bouncing off the walls well before 20 hours, much less 41.
    While I believe that society has become far too litigious, incidents like this one justify the actions taken. Too bad he had lousy council (legal and personal) and got screwed out of what he was due.

  48. DT Says:

    I would’ve used my belt buckle to dig a hole through the cinder block wall. Don’t know if that would’ve helped, but better than doing nothing at all.

  49. Don LaPierre Says:

    The people at Guantanamo have been through much worse. The U.S. Gov’t says it’s fine. So I can’t imagine what this guy has to complain about.

    That his life was ruined is unrelated to this incident — he’s an idiot. A good old fashioned idiot. He likes smoking cigarettes and drinking. He dislikes working and making good decisions. His life was setup for failure long before this incident.

    You say 15 years like it meant something to him, which clearly it doesn’t.

  50. drude Says:

    We’ve got people detained at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and hundreds of state and federal prisons who live in worse conditions for far longer. 41 hours? For lost hikers and sailors stranded at sea this is nothing.

  51. mrp1 Says:

    Good Post!

  52. BillyBoy Says:

    The same thing happened to a woman in a court house holding cell recently. The bailiff forgot about her and she was left in a concrete box without food, water or any useful sundries for 4 entire days!!!

    Yes. She had to drink her own urine.

    Arkansas Woman, Left in Cell, Goes 4 Days With No Food or Water

  53. Spot Says:

    Why didn’t anyone report the guy missing after 41 hours? Didn’t he have any family/friends/co-workers with whom he was in touch on a regular basis?

  54. Michael Says:

    There is a lesson in this.

    If you think CCTV is watching you yet no one is paying attention…Take off most if not all of clothes and they will absolutely be paying attention.

    It’s likely security just glanced at those monitors every now and then and didn’t notice the guy. No clothes on and they absolutely notice the guy!

    Could have done that at the 6, 7, or 8 hour mark and been out of there much sooner.

  55. kalamity james! Says:

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  56. Joe Blow Says:

    I was once put into solitary confinement when I was doing weekend jail for a DUI, and it was a definitely unpleasant experience. The room I was placed into had a bunk bed, and that was it: No TV, no clock, nor anyone else in the cell, just some bright yellow walls. For 48 hours, I would sleep and wake up with no way to judge the passing of the time. The only way I had some measure of time was during mealtime break, but that was it.

    Don’t knock this guy’s experience unless you have been confined to a small room with no way to gauge the passing of the days. Human beings are not meant to be isolated in such a manner, and such a condition can challenge one’s mental fortitude.

    And this was only for 48 hours. I couldn’t even imagine long-term solitary confinement.

  57. amax Says:

    I think what ruined his life was his response to the incident, not the incident itself.

    People think that suing someone for a large sum will solve their problems. Usually it doesn’t.

  58. Name of song Says:

    Does anyone know the name of the piano song or music in this video clip?

    Please reply here,


  59. Randy Quaid Says:

    I was trying to put myself in that guys shoes. I probably would have punched the first face I saw after I got out of there as hard as I could. Poor guy…

  60. Rich Says:

    No one was missing this guy?? 🙂

  61. Going… nowhere. — [Rich] Says:

    […] hours trapped in an elevator? Yikes. Full story here. […]

  62. bamma Says:

    Just for future reference, what button combination do you push in order to get the doors to open in an emergency?

  63. zzz Says:

    name the piano song please…

  64. john Says:

    Wow I feel bad for him. I’m glad he won the lawsuit.

  65. Person Says:

    HarryPotter – I’m guessing you’ve never spent a couple days in jail.

  66. herb-aceous Says:

    fascinating story,
    i liked the way it engrossed me in the minute details and observations about detritus.
    say, do you know how much wood a colony of termites can ingest in a day?
    it’s an interesting study of dehumanization.

  67. nic Says:

    he does step up when the doors open. In the video when they open he steps up and out – the bottom of the opening is a significant amount higher before the doors close and reopen.

  68. ameshin Says:


  69. musical time warp Says:

    Hey zzz,
    I don’t know the answer to your music question, however my guess is that it may be Michael Nyman (of “The Piano” movie fame) or possibly Jim Brickman. Anyway, The New Yorker created this clip, so send them an email at webcomments at newyorker dot com
    BTW, did anyone else notice that the New Yorker dated this article (which came out today April 14, 08) as posting April 21, 2008…?!! HA!! Do you think we may all have been trapped in an elevator for a week and are blocking the trauma??

  70. mrfunnyjokes Says:

    This guy got screwed by an ever increasing presence in our society, incompetent employees. Go through your day and keep track of the time and energy you use compensating for an apathetic, under-trained or just rotten employee. I want 25 million now and it’s only 7:30.

  71. emacs Says:

    heh all for just a cigarette

  72. uncannyannie Says:

    the music in the video reminded me of Silent Hill (the movie) O_o

    poor guy! All for a smoke. It was right to sue, but he should have been smart about how he went about it. Then again, that ordeal probably really messed with his sanity. I feel so bad for him.

  73. travelnooks Says:

    He must have gone through quite an ordeal. But demanding 25 million? He should have settled for a bit less.

  74. Nicholas White Trapped In Elevator Car 30 « Jan Stephens Verbal Diarrhea Says:

    […] 16, 2008 HERE is the extraordinary (and rather disheartening) story of Nicholas White who became stuck in an […]

  75. 41 Hours in a Lift « Things For English Language Students Says:

    […] extension: Read this account of the event. What things did Nicholas White do? What mental stages did he go through? How did he try to […]

  76. anubshar78 Says:

    Here in India things would have been very different. If a guy goes missing for few hours almost everybody in town would know and be looking for him all over. We are more social may be. But then why would in this case nobody looked for him for 41 hrs. I mean he must be having a family at least to worry about.

    However this is another interesting reason to quit smoking.

    And good that you guys have lawsuits.

  77. abram’s nickels » Trapped in an Elevator Says:

    […] Link: Madness: Trapped in Elevator Car 30 […]

  78. » Archives » Trapped in an Elevator. Says:

    […] made me think of all this was this story. Nicholas White, a 34 year old Business Week employee, was stuck for over 41 hours in an elevator […]

  79. Nick Says:

    You “why did he sue?” people are idiots. Garbage reason? What the hell would be a good reason? Morons.

  80. RCDC Says:

    no big deal? isolation and sensory deprivation can cause serious mental damage within 36 hours. If you watch, he also wasn’t sleeping very much – the circadian clock gets thrown off in an environment with no changes in light. those two combined can have real effects. this is what we do to people to torture them – only he couldn’t even have water. the building management company screwed up bigtime.

  81. megan Says:

    Oh man, I have to sympathize. Of course I wasn’t trapped on an elevator for 41 hours, but I was taking an elevator once and the power went out. I was alone without a cellphone and then the elevator shuddered to a halt and the lights went out. I shouted for help because there was no light in the elevator and I couldn’t find the intercom. I actually heard people outside, walking around, and I swear people actually answered me, saying “USE THE PHONE TO CALL FOR HELP.” Um hey jerks, the elevator was completely dark! I think that was the worse part, that nobody even bothered to help me. Eventually the emergency light switched on and I was able to find the phone and call for help and I ended up only being in the elevator for under an hour but I was still pretty pissed about those people who definitely heard me and didn’t even bother to get help.

  82. The Agitator » Blog Archive » Morning Links Says:

    […] The sad story of a man stuck in an elevator for 42 hours. I think it’s a bit strange that commenters at the linked site are criticizing the man for suing. He very well could have died in there. I’d have sured, too. Link includes pretty terrifying surveillance video. Digg it |  reddit | |  Fark […]

  83. Mike Schneider Says:

    He did sue. He won. Didn’t you read the article?

    He won more money for being stuck in an elevator for less than two full days than most people will make in two years, if not three or four.

    He won, at minimum, $2,380.95 per hour, if the lowest amount he won was a hundred grand. — That certainly qualifies as decent work, if you can get it. You can sign me up to get stuck at those wages any damn day of the year. Obviously he figured it was a sweet deal too, as he accepted the offer instead of pursuing the much insaner ambition to collect twenty-five mil (which would amount to almost $600,000 per hour of being stuck…I take it that his attorney was able to convince him that unless he’d lost several body parts in a horrific accident, or had been married to Paul McCartney, that even the most generous-with-other-peoples’-money jury would balk before such unvarnished greed, and the settlement would be contested on appeal anyway, leaving him without a coffin-nail fund for years, maybe decades).

    He blew the money and is now a jobless mental-case who doesn’t even have a van down by the river to live in. Next stop: The rescue mission, followed by Sterno bum alley.

  84. Adam_Y Says:

    “Eight security guards came and went while he was stranded there”

    They knew.

  85. Josh Says:

    That’s what he gets for writing a hard hitting report on the fiscal policies of the current U.S. administration.

  86. Cody Says:

    @ John Smith
    I agree that today’s society has become too quick to file suit. In this case, however, it seems more than justified. He spent nearly two days without food or water in a small box due to mechanical and human error. A few more hours and he may have died and he probably has mental issues as a result of his experience. If you were in his position I think your stance would be quite different. I doubt you would walk into the lobby, pat the security guards on the back, jump on another elevator and clock in for your next shift at work.

  87. Cody Says:

    People file for extreme amounts in these cases to gain media attention. While I’m sure he would have accepted the 25 million he knew (or rather his lawyers knew) he wouldn’t get that much. Lawyers throw out a huge number in order to get media attention. Companies are more concerned about the negative publicity than the person stuck in the elevator. However, his lawyers apparently didn’t do a good job of gaining media support as we’re just learning of this case nearly 10 years later.

  88. john smith Says:

    might have done better setting fire to the smoke detector, fire department woulda been there in 10 minutes…

  89. This is too scary « No Free Time Says:

    […] This is too scary Filed under: Uncategorized — andrewmyhre @ 8:56 pm Man trapped in elevator for 41 hours: […]

  90. photog Says:

    This is to ALL the people who wrote that because the reason he go on the elevator was to smoke, he DESERVED WHAT HE GOT. You are cruel, inhuman, bastages without a soul! What if this poor man went out to buy some smokes and was killed by a drunk driver would his death be HIS fault? Because he was a smoker! Under your dispicable logic; should a fifteen year old girl walking home from school (sneeking a quick ciggie) get kidnapped, rapped and killed, deserved it? She smoked afterall!
    Read :
    “Winslow Theramin Says:
    April 15, 2008 at 7:59 am
    I don’t care about smokers. The more they suffer the better the world is.”
    Is this what passes for acceptable social discourse?
    The prostitute deserved to be murdered, the stripper deserved to be rapped, and the homosexual deserved th be dragged behind a pick up truck, i guess under your mindset so did the homosexual deserve to be beaten half to death then tied to a fence post in the middle nowhere then left to die!!!!
    “the better the world is”?
    Hitler though the same thing of the jews!
    you sir/madam ARE A NAZI!

  91. photog Says:

    Please excuse my typos and poor spelling. I was (and still am) disgusted at some of the “victim deserved it” postings on this site.

  92. 41 hours in an elevator at giantmonster! Says:

    […] for taking the stairs. here’s a nightmare of a story about a man named nicholas white who was trapped in an elevator for 41 hours. no joke! 41 continuous hours!!! damn! poor guy! the elevator security cameras captured the entire […]

  93. John Says:

    That’s why you always bring your cellphone — I got trapped in an elevator last year after hours on a Friday, the emergency phone just went to a recording (“our office hours are…”) and nobody was around to hear the alarm so I called 911 and they had me out within an hour.

  94. Matt Says:

    I dont know why you guys blame smoking as the reason that got him stuck there. It could have happened to just about anyone. He could have gone out for a quick bite or something, and are you going to say “Well, he shouldn’t have gone to get something to eat”? Or maybe he wanted to go outside to get a breath of fresh air? “He shouldn’t have gone to breath some fresh air, maybe then he wouldn’t have gotten stuck in an elevator!” It makes no sense…

    The reason he got stuck there is because of a faulty elevator, and piss poor security who don’t even look at the cameras.

  95. Inetgate Says:

    It seems that a case of an attempted murder with willful negligence by staff of McGraw-Hill Building.

    So, I think the result of lawsuit is reasonable.

  96. stuck Says:

    […] – its real. Madness: Trapped in Elevator Car 30 � Et Cetera: Publick and Privat Curiosities It sounds awful. He did piss, he just did it against that cinder block wall that was beyond the […]

  97. Pie Heaven » Guy gets trapped in elevator for 41 hours Says:

    […] but none of them knew that White was trapped in the fourth elevator. Also, be sure to check out this blog post — it’s a really interesting (and scary) […]

  98. what goes threw someones mind? - SRT Forums - SRT4, SRT6, SRT8, SRT10 & Dodge Forum Says:

    […] That was 8 1/2 years ago. I wonder if the guy has been in an elevator since that happened? Madness: Trapped in Elevator Car 30 Et Cetera: Publick and Privat Curiosities It says there was an alarm going off for a good amount of time that he was trapped in there. It […]

  99. Courtney Says:

    I dont know how anyone can call him an idiot for getting stuck in an elevator!!?? He didnt make the damn thing break!!!! it was an unexpected malfunction and some of you people are saying “thats what he gets” “what an idiot” “hahaha” yall are rediculous!!! do you even understand what happened or does it just make you feel better to try and make fun of him?? i personally am claustrophobic and i will be the first to say that i literally would have gone insane if it were me stuck in there….I would have cried until i had a heart attack!! i do not blame him ONE BIT for suing as much as he did!! would i? hell yeah i would!!! i would want immediate answers too, to why no one was monitoring the cameras, how no one noticed an elevator NOT working….its just something that could have easily been prevented if people were performing their jobs correctly….i dont care what any of you say, this probly really did do some damage to this poor guy… glad he won and i hope the people who got sued never make any mistake again like that because i can guatantee you that all of you who are making fun of him and thinking its just a big joke “that you could do it!” would not have handled it so well……

  100. CK Says:

    In reading a good chunk of these posts, in what he deserves or not. I did not read one post that mentioned the fact that for the entire 41 hours he was trapped in there that the dam alarm was going off. “As the emergency bell rang and rang, he began to fear that it might somehow start a fire. Recently, there had been a small fire in the building, rendering the elevators unusable. He began hearing unlikely oscillations in the ringing: aural hallucinations. Before long, he began to contemplate death.”
    To me that would be worse than silence. And, if the Alarm was going off in the car, somewhere there should have been a warning panel or something that said an alarm was going on in car #30.
    Did he deserver 25mil.? I think that’s too much, I would said around 3-5mil. But, if he would have been in there about 12hours long and died from dehydration. The wrongful death suit would have been about 25mil. +

    And as far as friends and family missing him. Sounds like he was single, and it was a Friday night. If he was my friend would have figured he flaked or something came up. Co-worker most likely didn’t even notice his jacket and though that he bailed on his ass and went home. Who knows for sure.

  101. jeff Says:

    what!? i cant imagine that i will be trapped in an elevator alone!!! OMG!!!

  102. Scully Says:

    I think he was right to sue… do you realize he could have had kidney damage or failure from going without fluid for that long? I think he should have kept working though, and I think he had a lousy lawyer!!

  103. amber Says:

    He is a sad man who drinks way too much now.
    I met him once and he’s actually quite annoying.
    Did he deserve to be stuck in an elevator? No.
    He blew through his settlement and can’t understand why.
    That is amazing.

  104. The pianist Says:

    Hi guys,
    A little comment from France.
    That’s an unbelievable story!
    Colleagues, friends, guards, maintenance…and trapped for 41 hours! A real nightmare!
    About those who think he needed a better lawyer, yes he did. But most of all he needs a psychiatrist…
    Take care.

  105. Arno Says:

    The name and composer of the piano music is:

    The Storm Begins
    Album: Thoughts and Dreams: Solo Piano
    by Jennifer Haines

    The NewYorker replied to my many request. Thanks to them for the answer.

  106. Will T Says:

    The music / song is: “The Storm Begins,” by Jennifer Haines.

  107. Dr.No Says:

    Nev’r go out tha house b4 p&p!!!

  108. pete Says:

    he walked away with $135000

  109. John K Says:

    Geez, what good are alarms and security cameras if noones doing their job?

  110. Cretheus Says:

    I expect the security monitors for the building were seperate to the monitors linked to the elevators, probobly stuck in a corner of a room elsewhere.

    I think he had a right to sue, but not for 25 million. Its his own fault for loosing his job, and its a shame that this accident was made worse by his own doing.

    I dont know what id do in a situation like that, probobly try to break out of the roof until my hands were bleeding.

  111. min Says:

    i would have probably masturbated a few times,
    take a shit and pee a bit..
    brawl wit the wall, hit it kick it, yell till my throat bleeds, and then choke my self to death.

  112. Bill Burniece Says:

    OMG – absolute freaking nightmare. I used to have panic attacks due to my deep fear of being in an elevator. I would have probably clawed my way out of there even if it meant the complete destruction of my hands.

  113. steve Says:

    Dudes, don’t forget not only was he stuck in the elevator for 41 hrs but the emergency bell was ringing the whole time….I would have gone nuts!!!

  114. World Business Directory Says:

    Excellent! Thanks for doing this…it’s really nice to know that I’m not alone on a lot of these things.

  115. Mikey Says:

    freaking nightmare

  116. Calooma Says:

    Good weekend Nicolas? meh had better.

  117. Al Bundy Says:

    Reminds me a good episode of Married with Children when Al is held at gunpoint while working at the shoe store. His lawyer advises him to act as if he is now terrified of shoes, thus forcing him to stay home from work. Long story short, he blows the law suit in order to compete in his bowling league’s championship match, when he is told that all participants are required to wear bowling shoes. Oh, Al.

  118. RaiulBaztepo Says:

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  119. Thatsgottasuck Says:

    Wow even after he sounded the alarm for hours, smoke his remaining cigarettes and urinated down the elevator shaft, no one noticed he was in there. Sucks that he got a crappy settlement. Poor guy. This incident ruined his life.

  120. Georgia Says:

    I Found this EXTREAMLY hard to watch and find the whole ordeal very distressing. People who are saying he shouldnt of sued and got some form of comphensation are completley heartless. Yes There are people in the world who stuggle to take part in everyday task and have horrible diseases and illnesses and alot of things are handled incorrectly and unfairly. However this was one injustice that could be treated fairly, just because other aweful things are taken place in the world doesnt mean hes not entitled. Yes two days sounds short but two days in a space that small is enough to make somebody commit suside. His whole life will be most likely dsominated by phobias and fears of small places. I would love to see anyone else put in that sitation and NOT expect some form of compensation. Its very upsetting to read about and watch and i hope he can live an almost normal life.

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