Family stuck in elevator, then stuck with big bill

Karen Bryan thought the worst was behind her.

On July 4, she took her three kids to a friend’s apartment in the Parkside Building in Coeur d’Alene. After a long night of fun, she and the kids hopped in the elevator, and as it began to descend they did something so many have done in that situation before: they jumped.

“You just get a weightless feeling,” Bryan said. “I wanted to be a fun mom… Everyone’s done it.”

But then an unlikely scenario: The elevator screeched to a halt. They were stuck. The family called for help.

More than an hour later, a repairman from Otis Elevator Company came to let them out.

Bryan believed the ordeal was done, but a month later, she unexpectedly received a bill for more than $1,100.

“I nearly had an anxiety attack,” she said. “I’m a single mom and a full time nursing student.”

She says Otis sent the bill to the building’s administration. They forwarded it along to the friends who were hosting Bryan’s family on July 4. Her friends have since paid the bill, but Bryan plans to reimburse them unless she can get those charges dropped.

“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “There was no sign.”

Vertical Options President Wade Friesen says elevators rarely have signs warning people not to jump. However, he says most taller buildings use traction elevators, which can stall if you jump due to a mechanism that keeps it from overspeeding.

On the other hand, Friesen says elevators in smaller buildings are typically hydraulic and won’t stall even if you jump.       

Bryan says she’s considering legal action.

The administration for the Parkside Building declined to comment on the matter. Otis Elevator Company could not be reached for comment.