Man dies trying to jump from stuck elevator at downtown garage

September 08, 1995|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Sun Staff Writer

A man returning to his car after watching Wednesday night's record-setting baseball game at Camden Yards plunged to his death early yesterday while trying to jump off a stuck elevator at a downtown parking garage, officials said.

Robert A. Balbirer, 48, of Silver Spring, was pronounced dead at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center at 1:25 a.m. Results from an autopsy were not available yesterday.

The victim's relatives could not be reached. A spokesman for the University of Maryland at Baltimore, which owns the garage, described a freak accident that occurred shortly after post-game festivities honoring Cal Ripken had ended.

University of Maryland police got their first call for help at 12:34 a.m. from people inside the elevator who said they were stuck halfway between the ground and the first level of the seven-story garage in the 600 block of W. Pratt St.

John Hachtel, a university spokesman, said a dispatcher told the elevator passengers to wait for a police officer and a maintenance man. They apparently didn't heed that advice, and forced open the inner and outer elevator doors.

Mr. Hachtel said people started jumping onto Pratt Street, a 4-foot drop made dangerous because of the open shaft under the stuck elevator. By forcing open the outer door, they exposed a two-story drop to the basement parking levels.

Mr. Balbirer apparently jumped before the person in front had cleared from the landing area, the spokesman said. The victim "bumped into him and lost his balance," Mr. Hachtel said.

Witnesses told police that Mr. Balbirer tried to stop himself by grabbing a camera case and a purse that were hanging from a woman's shoulder. But those items slid off her arm, and the man "slid off and backward into the elevator shaft," Mr. Hachtel said.

Mr. Hachtel said the elevator passed its last inspection on Aug. 16.

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