Autopsy reveals new details in TIA elevator death - FOX 13 News

Autopsy reveals new details in TIA elevator death

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  • New details in mysterious death at TIA

    New details in mysterious death at TIA

    Monday, March 18 2013 4:26 AM EDT2013-03-18 08:26:17 GMT
    As investigators try to figure out the bizarre circumstances surrounding 31-year-old Chad Wolfe's death, his family is struggling to cope with the sudden loss. His grandmother Grace Wolfe spoke about
    As investigators try to figure out the bizarre circumstances surrounding 31-year-old Chad Wolfe's death, his family is struggling to cope with the sudden loss.
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

We're now learning more details about the man who fell to his death in an elevator shaft at Tampa International Airport.

The autopsy says Chad Wolfe died of head and neck injuries after falling seven stories into an elevator shaft back in March. But how did he get through the doors?

The autopsy report shows airport police believe "it appears Wolfe forced open the elevator door to gain entry into the elevator shaft."

But is that possible? Stephen Carr, an elevator expert, says it's possible; firemen do this all the time with a crow bar.

"What kind of force would it take for a human to just use his fingers is a little hard to say, but there could be defective door locks where relatively little force is sufficient to part the doors," Carr speculated.

Carr has investigated over 400 elevator incidents and he's testified in court about 20 elevator deaths. While he never inspected the elevator shaft in the Wolfe death, he did research the case.

He has another theory involving elevator door jibs, which hold the doors in place.

"Often these jibs, these fingers that go on the track, are slender, old, weak, and not properly secured to the bottom of the door. That's very likely what happened here," Carr explained. "The elevator door can be made to swing inward if kicked hard enough at the bottom and I think most likely that's what he did."

Again this is his expert opinion, but he has seen it before.

"I had a case where a 5-year-old leaned against the door. He was with his grandfather and the door gave way and he went in," continued Carr.

By many accounts, Chad Wolfe's behavior was erratic that night. Surveillance video appears to show him drinking beer in the terminal, then climbing onto a potted plant at the airport.

But the airport says there are no cameras pointing to the seventh-floor elevator doors, so knowing what really happened may remain a mystery forever.

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