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Firefighters rescue 12 people from LIRR elevator in Hicksville, authorities say

Alerted to the problem about 6:45 p.m., a Long Island Rail Road spokeswoman said, rescuers were ab;e to free the occupants within 15 minutes. 

A view of the elevator where 12 trapped

A view of the elevator where 12 trapped people were rescued on Wednesday at the Hicksville LIRR station. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Twelve people were trapped inside an elevator that was stuck about four feet off the ground Wednesday night at the Hicksville train station, authorities said.

Hicksville firefighters had to shut power off, force open the outside metal door, then push open the cab doors and help the occupants, all commuters, down an A-frame ladder from the fire truck, including a man who recently had surgery, said fire Capt. Michael Magee, who directed the rescue.

"Some people just sat on the elevator floor and the firefighters helped them out," he said. "Some were just eager to get out and they didn't want to wait for the ladder.

"Everybody was fine — in good spirits."

But one LIRR rider, who in a tweet called the breakdown a "disgrace," i said in an interview that she was stuck in the cab for more than 25 minutes and complained that no one seemed to notice the frozen elevator.

“We started pressing the alarm and jumping up and down and that didn’t work,” said Jamie Rosenblit, 31, of Jericho. “There was a general sense of frustration.”

Despite the emergency alarm and a call for assistance, LIRR workers inside the building didn't come to the elevator, which was relatively new, she said.

“You could hear the alarm outside, so we don’t know why anyone didn’t come to see what was wrong,” said Rosenblit, who works in human resources for a New York City bank and had boarded the 5:41 p.m. train from Manhattan to Hicksville. “The mood was cranky, and everyone was tired.”

At some point, a man in the elevator called his wife and asked her to inform LIRR workers that people were stuck, Rosenblit said. The wife was in the downstairs parking lot waiting for her husband, she said.

A railroad spokeswoman and Magee said they were alerted to the problem about 6:45 p.m.and the elevator occupants were freed within 15 minutes. 

The elevators can hold a maximum of 3,500 pounds, LIRR spokeswoman Nancy Gamerman said. She said the cause of the malfunction was not immediately clear but mechanics were investigating. It was not known whether the elevators had broken down in the past, she said.

Magee said there was enough room inside for the occupants to move back as firefighers forced open the doors. Rescuers and commuters were able to communicate and hear through the elevator cab's glass walls, he said.

"Once we forced the doors open a little bit, we were able to talk to them through the hole and then we had to get additional tools to force the interior door open to get them out," the captain said. "There was one commuter who recently had hip surgury but he, again, was in good spirits. He slowly got out with a ladder and everything was fine." 

The rescue operation caught the attention of rush hour commuters, some of whom took videos, Magee said.

Rosenblit said Wednesday’s commute home was another reminder that she doesn’t get enough service for her $297 per month LIRR charge. 

“We pay a lot for our monthly tickets,” she said. “We want acceptable service, but it’s kind of unacceptable most of the time.”

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