State Proposes To Make Home Elevators Safer - FOX 35 News Orlando

State Proposes To Make Home Elevators Safer

Posted: Updated:
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - After an I-Team investigation into the dangers of residential elevators to children, the state says it's ready to make them safer. The insurance and fire safety commissioner plans to propose changes that he hopes will make Georgia a "trendsetter" in elevator safety.

It was video of Jacob Helvey struggling with severe brain damage after getting trapped in a home elevator that prompted the state's top man for elevator safety to start calling meetings.

"Because I don't want this to happen again," said Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

Mr. Hudgens, the insurance and safety fire commissioner, will propose a change in the state's residential elevator code - one that he hopes will prevent children from getting injured in home elevators.

RELATED STORIES: Investigation into home elevators nominated for SE Regional Emmy Award

"I think that once we do this and some other states take the same approach that we are, that they'll change the national standard."

To understand the proposed change, you have to understand how Jacob got trapped.

Most home elevators have a main hallway door entrance then a second gate that's actually attached to the elevator cabin. The current national standard indicates the space between the two should not be more than fives inches wide.

But here's the problem: Hard-to-watch animation from the Helveys show how they believe Jacob stepped through one door but not the other. The elevator started moving and the child fit into that five-inch gap because a flexible, accordion door, says his family, spread open. He was crushed.


John Koshak is a national elevator safety expert. He told Georgia's elevator committee that with the accordion door the five-inch gap quickly got bigger.

"In fact, at the Helvey home it was eight inches," said John Koshak.

The commissioner wants to go to a smaller, three-inch space, but his proposal doesn't yet account for the extra room accordion doors offer.

"It's fantastic news," said Jacob's mother Brandi Helvey.

Mike Helvey chimed in, sounding relieved, "Finally."

Both Mike and Brandi Helvey say it's a step in the right direction, but the Helvey's attorney says this proposal still wouldn't have prevented Jacob's devastating accident.

Andy Cash says with the new rule change Jacob most likely would have still been injured.

Mr. Cash said, "He could have fit."

The Helveys think the state is at the finish but in danger of stopping before the race is over.

"I think the next step is mandating the bi-fold doors shouldn't be used," said Mike Helvey. His wife agrees, "Because they're adding an extra three inches."

The new proposal could bet voted on at a July 24th meeting. If OK'd, the new rule will go into effect January 2015.

And finally, as far as we know, the new rule would only address new elevator installation not retrofitting already exist systems with new safety features.

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • GA Lottery targets shadow winners

    GA Lottery targets shadow winners

    Sunday, September 14 2014 5:30 PM EDT2014-09-14 21:30:57 GMT
    The Georgia Lottery tells the Fox 5 I-Team it's launching a full-scale effort to crack down on so-called "shadow winners.
    The Georgia Lottery tells the Fox 5 I-Team it's launching a full-scale effort to crack down on so-called "shadow winners.
  • Graphic video of Forsyth Co. Courthouse shootout

    Graphic video of Forsyth Co. Courthouse shootout

    Thursday, September 11 2014 4:43 PM EDT2014-09-11 20:43:06 GMT
    FOX 5 has an extended clip of the dramatic shootout at the Forsyth County Courthouse.
    FOX 5 has an extended clip of the dramatic shootout at the Forsyth County Courthouse in June.
  • Is that sale really a sale?

    Is that sale really a sale?

    Wednesday, September 10 2014 8:18 AM EDT2014-09-10 12:18:46 GMT
    Many of us pride ourselves on our ability to buy things only on sale so that we can save money, but careful you might be fooling yourself. Take this observation from Kit Yarrow an expert in marketing and psychology:
    Many of us pride ourselves on our ability to buy things only on sale so that we can save money, but careful you might be fooling yourself. Take this observation from Kit Yarrow an expert in marketing and psychology:
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Good Day ArchiveMore>>

  • Get educated with online classes

    Get educated with online classes

    Friday, September 12 2014 11:17 AM EDT2014-09-12 15:17:09 GMT
    Ever wanted to take classes but thought you didn't have the time or or you couldn't afford it? Well with more and more online options out there, you do and you can. And many of them are free.
    Ever wanted to take classes but thought you didn't have the time or or you couldn't afford it? Well with more and more online options out there, you do and you can. And many of them are free.
  • Celebrate Oktoberfest in Helen GA

    Celebrate Oktoberfest in Helen GA

    Friday, September 12 2014 10:18 AM EDT2014-09-12 14:18:31 GMT
    It's the annual celebration of beer, brats, and bands.  And, everything else having to do with German culture, of course!
    It's the annual celebration of beer, brats, and bands. And, everything else having to do with German culture, of course! The 44th Annual Oktoberfest launches with a parade Saturday, and continues at Helen Festhalle for the next several weeks.
  • Pike Nurseries: Fall table decor

    Pike Nurseries: Fall table decor

    Friday, September 12 2014 9:29 AM EDT2014-09-12 13:29:31 GMT
    Here are some easy (and elegant!) ways to use fall flowers, vegetables, herbs and accessories to create a look for the table that easily transitions for the upcoming Halloween and even Thanksgiving holidays!
    Here are some easy (and elegant!) ways to use fall flowers, vegetables, herbs and accessories to create a look for the table that easily transitions for the upcoming Halloween and even Thanksgiving holidays!
Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices