Authorities at Tampa International Airport say an elevator door's lock mechanism "was compromised" when a Pennsylvania man fell to his death early Friday morning.
They said that the body of 31-year-old Chad Wolfe was found on top of an elevator car.
Airport authorities gave more details of the timeline involved in Wolfe's death at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Airport chief of police Paul Sireci said Chad Wolfe's girlfriend Jessica Price reported him missing just before 1 a.m.
Sireci said officers then did an extensive search of the airport grounds, including the garages and rental car agencies.
Then at 3 a.m., janitorial workers discovered an elevator door open on the first floor, and contacted maintenance workers.
They contacted the Schindler Elevator Corporation, TIA's contractor.
"At about 10:45, when Schindler arrived there attempting to restore the elevator to service, they discovered Mr. Wolfe's body on top of the car," said Al Illustrato, TIA's vice president of facilities and administration.
They then went to the 7th floor where they found some of Wolfe's belongings. They said they found the lock on those outer elevator doors "compromised."
"They looked at the hoist-weight door for that particular car, and they found that the lock on that hoist-weight door was compromised," Illustrato said. "They have no way at this point of knowing what occurred with that lock."
Airport police chief Paul Sireci said he spoke to Chad Wolfe's father as officers were searching for him. Sireci said he told them his son takes Xanax. Sireci said witnesses reported that Wolfe appeared intoxicated and was acting erratically.
Illustrato said the investigation into what happened with the outer doors and the lock is still underway. He said the elevator had been last inspected in January, and they have no evidence anything was wrong with last Friday when Wolfe's body was found.
Garland Wolfe, Chad Wolfe's father, said he believes TIA is responsible for his son's death. He said his son was terrified of flying, and is why he took Xanax.
"Well, they have to do everything they can to make him look like the bad guy. The worse they can make him look the better they possibly feel that they look."
The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner says toxicology results will take at least a month.
Wolfe says he also received a phone call from TIA's CEO and the airport police chief shortly before the press conference began. He says none of what he heard changes his mind about what he thinks happened to Chad.
"I think he pushed the button. The door opened and he may have been looking the other way, looking around and stepped in and there was no elevator there. That's what I thought from the very beginning," said Wolfe. "I knew that he would never be able to pry them doors open like they initially told me. And I knew he would never want to ever take his own life. That's one of the questions they had asked me also."
Chad's body has been returned to his family in Pennsylvania. A visitation will be held Thursday.
Pennsylvania man found dead in TIA elevator shaft:
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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