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Neighbors told Boston University lecturer to 'be careful' of elevator before she was killed

A neighbor of a Boston University lecturer who was crushed to death in an elevator, warned her to ‘be careful’ just moments before she loaded it with a heavy package. 

Carrie O’Connor, 38, was taking her belongings to her apartment in the 1920s building on Monday evening when the accident occurred. 

Tenant, Leanne Scorzoni, told the Boston Globe, that she spoke with a man who had been helping O’Connor right before she was killed at the building located at 1140 Commonwealth Ave in Allston.

While the elevator usually works via a two-door system that requires the second door to be firmly shut before moving, it’s believed the weight triggered a sensor by fault.

‘I heard it, he saw everything,’ tenant Leanne Scorzoni said. ‘He was helping her with a box into the building and he was going up the stairs, and he told her “hey, just be careful because it’s an old-fashioned elevator.”‘  

A neighbor of Boston University lecturer, Carrie O'Connor, 38, who was crushed to death in an elevator, warned her to 'be careful' just moments before she loaded it with a heavy package

Carrie O'Connor

A neighbor of Boston University lecturer, Carrie O’Connor (pictured), 38, who was crushed to death in an elevator, warned her to ‘be careful’ just moments before she loaded it with a heavy package

Tenant, Leanne Scorzoni (pictured), said she spoke with a man who had been helping O’Connor right before she was killed at the building located at 1140 Commonwealth Ave in Allston. Scorzoni said the man told her to 'be careful' while using the elevator

Tenant, Leanne Scorzoni (pictured), said she spoke with a man who had been helping O’Connor right before she was killed at the building located at 1140 Commonwealth Ave in Allston. Scorzoni said the man told her to ‘be careful’ while using the elevator 

O’Connor died on Monday evening when the elevator in the Allston apartment complex (pictured) suddenly dropped between floors as she tried to load her package. Police said they were called to 1140 Commonwealth Avenue just after 5pm

O’Connor died on Monday evening when the elevator in the Allston apartment complex (pictured) suddenly dropped between floors as she tried to load her package. Police said they were called to 1140 Commonwealth Avenue just after 5pm

Scorzoni described the scene as ‘horrifying’.

‘I don’t know what type of elevator it is, but you have to pull the door across and then step in and then press the button,’ she said. 

Scorzoni added that she was told the elevator had a sensor, and the man who was helping O’Connor believes that the package may have triggered the sensor, which caused it to start moving.   

She told the Boston Globe that there is a staircase next to the elevator, and the man helping O’Connor was talking to her as he was going up. 

'It's a two-slide door system and unless that door is completely shut, it does not move ever,' tenant Nevada Foskit (pictured) said. 'If something did happen, it clearly had to be faulty'

‘It’s a two-slide door system and unless that door is completely shut, it does not move ever,’ tenant Nevada Foskit (pictured) said. ‘If something did happen, it clearly had to be faulty’

Authorities (pictured exiting the building) said O'Connor was found in the elevator on the first floor. She was pronounced dead at the scene

Authorities (pictured exiting the building) said O’Connor was found in the elevator on the first floor. She was pronounced dead at the scene

‘He just said “oh, I don’t think that’s gonna fit in there.” And then she’s like, “oh, I’ll try it one more time”. And then I heard her screaming, and I heard him screaming,’ she told the publication.  

Scorzoni added that the man was screaming and pointing when she emerged from her first floor apartment. 

‘When I looked at the elevator, it was not there. Only the ceiling of the car was on my floor, so all the cables were there,’ she said.  

Scorzoni said she did not know O’Connor, and the French lecturer had only recently moved into the building. 

Other residents in the building reported hearing screams at the time of the tragic accident. An unidentified witness told Boston 25 News that she ‘heard just an ungodly scream’.

‘We ran into the hallway and saw a gentlemen who was in distress screaming and hyperventilating and saying she’s dead, she’s dead’.

The building’s residents weren’t allowed inside for about 90 minutes as police worked the scene and were told that the elevator was stuck between the first floor and the basement. 

Eric Carmichael told CBS that his wife was on the first floor when the accident occurred.  

Management of the building said the elevator was inspected within the past year

Management of the building said the elevator was inspected within the past year 

In a statement, a spokesperson from the state's Division of Professional Licensure said officials from the Office of Public Safety and Inspections determined that the elevator was recently inspected and certified in accordance with state regulations

In a statement, a spokesperson from the state’s Division of Professional Licensure said officials from the Office of Public Safety and Inspections determined that the elevator was recently inspected and certified in accordance with state regulations

He said she told him that it all happened so fast and there was nothing she could do to help.   

‘The lady was trying to put her package into the elevator, like that’s how we do it. Take it from the lobby,’ Carmichael told the station. 

‘I guess maybe the package and the woman were over the limit of what the elevator could handle so then what my wife said she saw was the lady’s arms like hanging onto her package.’

Carmichael called the accident terrifying because any it could have been any of the residents inside when the elevator malfunctioned.  

‘Terrible old elevator that should have been probably kept up better,’ he added.

Another resident told CBS that the elevator is an old system. 

‘It’s a two-slide door system and unless that door is completely shut, it does not move ever,’ Nevada Foskit said. ‘If something did happen, it clearly had to be faulty.’

The building's residents weren't allowed inside for about 90 minutes as police worked the scene and were told that the elevator was stuck between the first floor and the basement (bottom left)

The building’s residents weren’t allowed inside for about 90 minutes as police worked the scene and were told that the elevator was stuck between the first floor and the basement (bottom left)

The elevator became stuck between the first floor and the basement, which is where the washers and dryers are in the building

The elevator became stuck between the first floor and the basement, which is where the washers and dryers are in the building 

The building (pictured) itself dates back to 1920, according to tax records, but it's unclear when the elevator was installed. Police said an autopsy will be conduced to determine how the victim died

The building (pictured) itself dates back to 1920, according to tax records, but it’s unclear when the elevator was installed. Police said an autopsy will be conduced to determine how the victim died

Management of the building said the elevator was inspected within the past year. 

According to WCVB, Boston’s Inspectional Service Department said the elevator is overseen by the state. 

In a statement, a spokesperson from the state’s Division of Professional Licensure said officials from the Office of Public Safety and Inspections determined that the elevator was recently inspected and certified in accordance with state regulations.

‘The department extends its deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the victim during this difficult time,’ the statement reads.

Police and officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are still investigating. 

The building itself dates back to 1920, according to tax records, but it’s unclear when the elevator was installed. 

Boston police sergeant Detective John Boyle said her cause of death was traumatic asphyxia, and the manner was accidental. 

According to O’Connor’s biography on the Boston University website, she has taught ‘a wide range of courses throughout her career, including French language, French for Business, Conversational French, French literature in translation, and French culture through gastronomy’.

She previously taught at Bentley University, Louisiana State University, MIT, Northeastern University, and Tufts University. 

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