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Worker Killed At Former Holiday Inn On Lane

Elevator inspectors say a safety device was inoperable at the time an elevator mechanic died. The mechanic was working on an elevator at the former Holiday Inn on Lane Avenue when he was crushed Monday morning.

52-year-old James Higgins from the Plain City-London area died when he was prepping an elevator to haul furniture. The former hotel closed recently to be converted to Ohio State dorms. Higgins worked for Oracle Elevator Company, a service company that has offices in the Midwest and Southeast. Oracle declined comment on the accident.

Norman Martin is the chief elevator inspector for Ohio's Commerce Department. He said department investigators found the elevator was able to move electrically with the doors closed - an indication a safety device was not operating.

Martin said pieces of equipment called electrical jumpers were found on the elevator.

"The electrical jumpers allow a current to flow or not flow to a device depending on how they're placed. In this particular case a safety device was unable to function because the device was essentially exempted out of the circuit," Martin said. Martin said he does not know if the mechanic who died placed the electrical jumpers on the elevator or if they were already there. He noted using electrical jumpers is not standard practice. Martin said it is up to the elevator mechanic to make sure the site is safe.

"They are responsible for the safety of the job site and confirming what circuits are energized and not energized," he said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating the death. The Columbus office spokesperson David Wilson said OSHA will not speculate about what happened. He said it has six months to complete the investigation.

Campus Partners is leasing the former hotel to Ohio State. The university is set to become the owner of the building later this spring.