Bronx man falls to his death

A 35-year-old man died after he plummeted four stories down a freight elevator shaft around 11 p.m. on Monday in an apartment complex in Mount Hope.

Joseph Ryan stepped backwards into what he thought was the elevator on the lobby level as he and his wife were moving a mattress up to their seventh floor apartment, but the elevator car wasn’t there, police said.

Ryan was pronounced dead after he was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital. The New York Daily News reported that Ryan was an elevator repairman who pried the door open himself earlier in the evening to help with the move.

The apartment building,  located at 1749 Grand Concourse, has had issues in the past with the elevators,  residents said.

Olga Ayala, a 27-year resident of the complex, said her 13-year-old son wouldn’t use the elevator because he doesn’t like it.

“It’s always getting stuck,” Ayala said, “and then you have to ring the emergency bell.”

She said the elevators in the building break down often and one wasn’t working for a month.

There is an open complaint from last month, according to records on the Department of Buildings Web site, regarding one of the building’s main elevators. Another complaint from January was closed out with no violation issued.

Maria Mojica, who has lived in the building for more than five years, said the freight elevator is only supposed to be used for moving in and out of the complex, although sometimes people use it as an emergency elevator if the others aren’t working.

“There are a lot of residents who have handicaps,” Mojica said. “They need the elevator.”

A building official said the freight elevator runs until about 5 p.m.

Twelve-year resident Daryl Poe said the freight elevator must be opened in order for it to be used.

“I don’t understand how no one noticed that there was no elevator,” Poe said. “It had to have been pitch black inside the doors.”

Poe said the apartment has had accidents in the past including an Easter fire in 2007.

“It must have been horrible for the wife,” Poe said. “Can you imagine watching your husband fall to his death?”

Many of the residents hadn’t been notified of the incident Tuesday morning. Ayala found out about Ryan’s death by watching the news.

“We weren’t notified at all,” she said. “I would have liked to know.”

The superintendent of the building declined to comment, but a spokesman for the owners of the building extended their condolences.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim of this tragic accident and with his family,” said Bud Perrone, a spokesman with Rubenstein Associates. “We are cooperating fully with all relevant government authorities and will continue to do so until their investigations are complete.”

The police are still investigating.

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