18-year-old killed when elevator falls, crushing him

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 3:48 AM MDT
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ATLANTA (WGCL) - An 18-year-old student-athlete was trapped and crushed when an elevator in an Atlanta apartment building fell, taking him down with it.

JauMarcus McFarland, 18, died Tuesday afternoon in a tragic elevator incident at a student housing building in Atlanta. The football player was a student at Champion Prep Academy, a program that bridges the gap between high school and college for athletes hoping for scholarships.

Warning: This article contains disturbing details that may be upsetting to readers.

“I ain’t even got words for it,” said one of McFarland’s teammates, who was on the elevator with him just before the incident.

Three football players for the school, including McFarland, were taking the elevator on their way to practice when witnesses say the elevator felt as though it was beginning to fall. The elevator stopped and opened at the third floor, with two of the players getting out.

When McFarland tried to exit, the elevator fell. The 18-year-old was crushed, trapped between the top of the elevator and the floor of the shaft for nearly an hour before he was recovered.

“His feet were moving at first. Then, they stopped moving. He went unconscious,” one of his teammates said.

McFarland succumbed to his injuries at the hospital. School officials say his family is traveling from Missouri to Atlanta.

One building resident says she’s been complaining about the elevators and took a picture of the inspection certificate last month in case something ever happened. The certificate shows that the last inspection was August 2019, and one was due August 2020.

Property manager Nathan Phillips released a statement saying the elevator was not due for its five-year inspection until 2024 and had been serviced as recently as last week.

He deferred to the state inspectors’ future findings as to what happened but indicated the weight capacity of the elevator, which is 3,000 pounds, had been exceeded. He says 16 athletes were on the elevator when the incident occurred.

“Unfortunately, this appears to be what started the domino effect of events leading to the unfortunate death of this young man. This is a horrible tragedy, and it deeply saddens us all that this has happened,” said Phillips in the statement.

He says the elevator will remain closed until further notice.

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