Toddler Injured In Fall Down Hotel Elevator Shaft

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A 2-year-old boy has been hospitalized after plunging 30 feet down an elevator shaft in an Illinois hotel.

Police and paramedics were called to the Plaza Hotel in Joliet, Illinois on Sunday after a desk clerk reportedly heard crying and noticed the hotel elevator was stuck between the first and second floors.

"The clerk said it was difficult to see inside but it looked like the boy was holding onto the bottom of the car in the 16-inch gap between the wall of the shaft," police Chief Fred Hayes tells the Herald News.

By the time officers arrived and surveyed the situation, the toddler had fallen straight down into the basement. The boy had struck his head and was lying unconscious. He was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition and later transferred to a children's hospital in Chicago where his condition was reported as serious Monday afternoon.

The toddler was staying with his mother, 22, and 5-year-old sister when he wandered into the elevator alone and apparently flipped an emergency switch, says Hayes. The mother reportedly told police she "may have dozed off for five minutes and her son slipped out of the room."

According to Hayes, video surveillance footage shows the boy had an interest in the elevator. Prior to the incident, he had walked out of the room and wandered to the elevator, but the first time his mother came after him.

"A few minutes after that, the boy leaves the room by himself for a second time, wanders to the elevator, presses the button to call it, gets inside and starts pushing buttons before the doors close," Hayes says.

Inside the elevator, an 'emergency flip switch' that immediately stops the car and opens the doors to the compartment--but not the doors to the hallway--is within easy reach of a child. Police believe the boy must have flipped the switch and then gotten into the gap between the car and the shaft.

"He had already dropped his baby bottle and then (apparently) he fell," says Hayes.

According to reports, the elevator was given a valid certificate of inspection in October. Police are saying there appears to be no criminal wrongdoing, but the incident is still under investigation.

The Plaza hotel staff maintains it has a strict "no child" policy. The Herald News reports the mother was staying with a man who purchased two rooms: One for the adults to watch the football game, and the other for the children to play in.

The 5-year-old has since been placed in the custody of her grandparents after police notified the Department of Children and Family Services.

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