Family mourns son who died in freak elevator accident: 'He had his whole life ahead of him'

The family of a 30-year-old man who was crushed to death in a freak elevator accident is speaking out following the horrific incident. 

Samuel Waisbren was about to exit the elevator of his 23-story, luxury New York City apartment building Thursday morning, when the lift suddenly malfunctioned and plummeted, according to the New York Post. Surveillance footage shows a man wearing a backpack leaving the elevator lobby and turning around just before Waisbren and five others unexpectedly drop. 

Waisbren then attempted to grab a hold of the elevator door's frame and plant a leg on part of the lobby's floor, but was too late, witnesses said. 

"His initial reaction was to put his arm out... so he could get off," a building worker told the newspaper. "At that point, the elevator took him down. Jumping out [of] the car while it’s still moving, you just don’t want to do it."

Officials said the 30-year-old, who hailed from Milwaukee, was crushed between the elevator car and the shaft wall, as terrified passengers, who were eventually rescued by the fire department, looked on. 

"It’s hard to see how you can go on living when such a big thing is taken from you," Waisbren's father, Dr. Charles Waisbren, told the New York Daily News

"Sam was an absolutely wonderful young man," he added. "Smart and loving and very, very sensitive. He had his whole life ahead of him."

Samuel purportedly moved to New York six years ago and was working at software company CB Insights at the time of his death. 

"A Midwest boy goes out to the big city — and dies," his father said. "It's just horrible to feel that he's not going to grow up to have children, to have his own family, progress in his career."

Records from the New York City Department of Buildings apparently revealed that Samuel's building — the Manhattan Promenade — had prior issues with a safety device on an elevator that was never addressed. The Wisconsin native's father said that his son had also previously complained about the building's elevator service.

"My feeling about New York is you pay a bazillion dollars for rent, the least they could do is provide safety," Charles said. 

Though elevator problems were reportedly common in the building, one resident said that she had never expected the worst until now. 

"If I had ever thought that this could happen, I would've never ever put myself and my family in an elevator," said Dayna Sargen, who has lived in the building for two years. "It's just sad. It's tragic."

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