KIPS BAY, Manhattan — A Fox Point native wanted to fulfill his dreams in New York. Instead, a freak elevator accident took it away from him. Samuel Waisbren died when he was crushed by an elevator inside a New York City building Thursday morning, Aug. 22.
Waisbren's family learned of the news shortly after it happened. They say they are heartbroken by their son's loss and how it happened.
"I don't know how you can ever enjoy anything in life again. I just don't know," said Charles Waisbren, Samuel's father.
Charles Waisbren says his son's dream took him to New York City, and now he's stuck states away planning to bring his body back home.
"You send someone out to New York City to find fame and fortune, and they don't provide a safe environment for him. He was living in a fancy building, paying a lot of rent, and basically it killed him," said Charles Waisbren.
"I don't know if I'll ever feel the same getting back in the elevator again," a woman who lives in the building said.
Waisbren was in a crowded elevator in Manhattan, about 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Officials say he tried getting off when the elevator dropped. He was stuck between the door and elevator shaft when the elevator crushed him.
"I know there were a lot of problems with the elevators and I know it's become a criminal matter, I know there are a lot of issues as far as the safety of that building," Charles Waisbren said.
The New York Department of Buildings issued 16 violations regarding the elevator from 2017 to 2018, and all of them were dismissed.
In a statement, the Department of Buildings said they are investigating the incident.
“The Department of Buildings is investigating this incident aggressively and will take all appropriate enforcement actions. Elevators are the safest form of travel in New York, due to the city’s stringent inspection and safety requirements. We’re determined to find out what went wrong at this building and seek ways to prevent incidents like this in the future.”
Samuel was a Nicolet High School graduate, went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was one of three siblings. Waisbren's father learned of Samuel's death from Samuel's older brother who also lives in New York.
"I'm so sad. He won't be able to father a child and have a family, to grow up and enjoy life. We are just devastated," Charles Waisbren said.
One other person was able to get off the elevator. Five others were trapped inside in the elevator on the basement level, until firefighters rescued them.
Waisbren's family said in Fox Point, they are planning a funeral for Sunday, Aug. 25.
Nicolet High School released the following statement:
"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Sam Waisbren, a 2007 graduate of Nicolet High School. The entire Nicolet family extends our condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time."