July 14, 2019 6:43 pm
Updated: July 14, 2019 7:15 pm

Calgary Tower shut down after elevator rescue: ‘I thought I was going to die’

WATCH ABOVE: The Calgary Tower was shut down after eight people had to be rescued from a broken elevator Friday night. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, people who survived the frightening experience say the elevators shouldn't have been operating in the first place.

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The Calgary Tower has been shut down to accommodate repair work after eight people were involved in a dramatic rescue on Friday night.

On Friday at around 9:30 p.m., Jessica Dube and her boyfriend Matthew Hamilton were among a group of eight people on their way to the top of the Calgary Tower when it came to a sudden stop, and then dropped.

“We heard screeching as we were going up and thought, ‘This doesn’t sound good,'” Dube said Sunday.

“All of a sudden, that’s when it started shaking and we heard like fireworks on the top, almost a crashing sound, and obviously, that’s when the two cables broke and then everyone was kind of freaking out.”

A sign posted at the doors of the Calgary Tower on Sunday.

Carolyn Kury de Castillo/Global News

After the first drop, the passengers alerted the security guard who called a technician.

“When we asked the security guard, ‘What is the protocol for this? And what kind of procedures do you have in place?’ He couldn’t give us an answer. At that point, I was terrified,” Hamilton said.

READ MORE: 8 people rescued after being trapped in elevator at Calgary Tower

But things were about to get worse for the stranded passengers when the elevator dropped a second time, about an hour and a half after they first got stuck.

“The first time it fell, I was like, OK hopefully the brakes engage and nothing is going to happen,” Hamilton said.

“But when the technician tried lowering it, essentially he didn’t even warn us when it was about to happen and it just dropped again and we literally all dropped to the floor ready for impact. I thought I was going to die.”

A photo of cables in the Calgary Tower elevator after the rescue on Friday.

Courtesy: Matthew Hamilton

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From his observation and photographs he took, Hamilton thinks the only things that saved them from falling further were the cables locking up in the pulley system.

“I felt helpless like a rat stuck in a cage,” Hamilton said.

An agonizing four hours went by with the group of eight wondering what might happen to them before members of the Calgary Fire Department were able to get them out using another elevator.

“That was scary,” Dube said. “I had flip-flops on and a dress and I am trying to cross to another elevator. I tried to not look down too much to not get scared.”

A statement from the building’s management team said: “We are taking this matter very seriously. A full investigation of the incident is currently underway and will be ongoing. The Calgary Tower remains committed to safety excellence and is dedicated to ensuring that this landmark can be enjoyed safely by the public.”

Elevator work had been going on earlier in the summer and several people who have contacted Global News have reported getting stuck in one of the elevators in June.

There has been no response yet from either Calgary Tower management or the Sky 360 restaurant on previous elevator issues.

In a statement to Global News, Calgary Tower management said: “The safety of everyone enjoying the Calgary Tower is our highest priority. We are extremely grateful to everyone who responded to this incident at the site and wish to thank them all for their support.” 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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