A Tampa man was crushed to death Wednesday morning while working under an elevator at Pinellas County's largest resort.
TradeWinds general manager Keith Overton said all of the elevators on the property were inspected Monday, and one of the recommendations was to clean out an accumulation of water and hydraulic oil from one of the shaft reservoirs.
Mark Allen Johnson, 45, an employee of SWS Environmental Services, and a co-worker were doing so when the accident happened.
"They had been already working for 40 minutes, the elevator was locked with a key," said Cristen Remsel, a spokesperson for the Pinellas County Sheriff's office.
St. Pete Beach Fire Marshall Ernie Hand said the elevator was raised a couple of feet above floor level to provide Johnson with access to the below-grade reservoir.
"The elevator car came down and caught the individual who was halfway between the elevator and outside," Hand said. "He sustained injuries to the back half of the body when the elevator crushed him."
Windy Howe of Beaver Dams, New York, told FOX 13 News she had just stepped off an adjoining elevator and was looking at Johnson when the elevator car suddenly dropped a couple of feet. She said she tried to comfort the victim, but he did not respond and did not move.
Howe was still shaken by what she witnessed, and Hand described Johnson's co-worker as extremely distraught.
Overton said many of the resort's 850 workers are also upset, and counseling is being offered.
"You just feel awful for them having to respond to that call and see that tragedy," Overton said.
The accident will be investigated by the Pinellas sheriff's office and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
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