SAN ANTONIO - A San Antonio woman plunged six floors down an elevator shaft to her death at the historic Crockett Hotel last December. The cause has remained a mystery for more than four months, but the investigation report was released on Wednesday.
The state's Chief Inspector says the elevator 65-year old Gloria Rodriguez was trying to board when she was killed had a faulty brake. Most chilling of all though, he says a scheduled inspection that might have detected the problem, was postponed just weeks before the tragedy.
The state investigation confirms the painful suspicion Gloria Rodriguez's children had at the time of her death. The maintenance elevator their mother tried to use on the evening of December 28th had malfunctioned.
The inspector writes that the brake which stops the car at each floor, was "improperly installed and maintained".
Rodriguez, who'd worked as a housekeeper for 12 years at the hotel, tried to get on the elevator on the sixth floor. The reports states that after the doors opened the car "moved away from the floor (in the up direction) in an uncontrolled manner due to the brake not holding."
It continues, "Somehow, even as the door was attempting to self close due to the absence of the car... ...Ms. Rodriguez entered the unprotected opening and fell down the hoistway to her death."
Rodriguez's body was found at the bottom of the shaft.
The report says there was evidence someone had tried to fix the brake problem but had done a shoddy job of it. And states it was most likely a technician working for Otis Elevator Company, which had a contract to maintain the equipment.
The report also blames the Otis crew for postponing an inspection that should have taken place 22 days before the accident, because they were short on personnel during the holidays.
The report says hotel managers should have overruled the maintenance company and had the annual inspection done on schedule. Both the hotel and Otis are facing violations and thousands of dollars in fines. They are both being sued by Rodriguez's family.
Neither company, nor the family, had any comment today.