Lakeland Ledger

Firefighters Rescue Woman Trapped in Building Elevator

By Joy Cochran

The Ledger

WINTER HAVEN -- A Frostproof woman spent most of Sunday stuck in an elevator after cleaning an office in downtown Winter Haven.

About midnight firefighters rescued Elvia Lopez from the elevator in the three-story Mancuso Building at 65 Third St. N.W.

Lopez refused medical care at the scene and would not comment about her ordeal Monday.

Attorney Byron P. Hileman said he received a telephone call from police asking him to unlock the building where he has leased office space for about 15 years.

Hileman said Lopez usually cleans the office each Sunday.

"Apparently she left home in the early morning," he said. "When she didn't come back by some time in the afternoon (her family) went looking for her."

When family members arrived at the building they found a vehicle belonging to Lopez, but could not find her. They called police at 11:13 p.m., according to police records.

When Hileman arrived and unlocked the door, he and firefighters headed for the stairs.

But Lopez's rescuers stopped at the elevator.

"As we passed by the elevator, she must have heard our voices because she cried out," Hileman said. "The Fire Department assured her they were going to get her out."

According to Fire Department records, power to the elevator was restored and rescuers lowered the elevator to the first floor.

Chris Humphrey, deputy fire chief, said he doesn't know why the elevator stalled between the building's first and second floors.

After she refused medical treatment, Lopez left with her family, Hileman said.

The Mancuso Building, owned by Joseph Mancuso, of Sarasota, was built in 1949.

Mancuso's son, Nick Mancuso, said nothing like this has happened with the elevator previously.

"We have it serviced regularly," Nick Mancuso said. "We've never had anybody get stuck in the elevator that I'm aware of."

The elevator was taped off and marked "not working" on Monday.

Almost three years ago and just one block from the Mancuso building, Betty Andrews was trapped for 48 hours in an elevator in the building she owns at 280 W. Central Ave.

Andrews' ordeal was blamed on a rat that got between the elevator cable and sheave, putting slack in the cable and causing the elevator to stop.