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>>

  • I-Team Investigation

    Former Douglas Co. D.A. office manager indicted

    Former Douglas Co. D.A. office manager indicted

    Sunday, July 27 2014 3:24 PM EDT2014-07-27 19:24:49 GMT
    There are major new developments today in the state investigation of the Douglas County District Attorney's office. Tammy Agan, the former office manager, has been indicted on 58 counts of theft and making false statements.
    There are major new developments today in the state investigation of the Douglas County District Attorney's office. Tammy Agan, the former office manager, has been indicted on 58 counts of theft and making false statements.
  • Whistleblower Seeks Sanctions Against Attorney General's Office

    Whistleblower Seeks Sanctions Against Attorney General's Office

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:59 PM EDT2014-07-26 01:59:29 GMT
    In a letter, obtained exclusively by the Fox 5 I-Team, former Ethics director Stacey Kalberman's plans to seek sanctions against the state Attorney General's office.
    More controversy involving the State Ethics Commission. In a letter, obtained exclusively by the Fox 5 I-Team, former Ethics director Stacey Kalberman's plans to seek sanctions against the state Attorney General's office.
  • FOX 5 I-Team Investigation

    State proposes action for home elevator safety

    State proposes action for home elevator safety

    Friday, July 25 2014 2:12 PM EDT2014-07-25 18:12:46 GMT

    The state is inching closer to closing a gap that should make residential elevators safer for children .It was the I-Team's stories about children nationwide being hurt that prompted the state to propose an emergency amendment to the state code.

    The state is inching closer to closing a gap that should make residential elevators safer for children .It was the I-Team's stories about children nationwide being hurt that prompted the state to propose an emergency amendment to the state code.

  • 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>>

  • Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

  • Stars of 'Get On Up' The Story of James Brown, visit Good Day

    Stars of 'Get On Up' The Story of James Brown, visit Good Day

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:55 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:55:46 GMT
    In his follow-up to the four-time Academy Award®-nominated blockbuster The Help, Tate Taylor directs 42’s Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in GET ON UP.
    In his follow-up to the four-time Academy Award®-nominated blockbuster The Help, Tate Taylor directs 42’s Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in GET ON UP.
  • Good Day Atlanta

    Pike Nurseries: Attracting Hummingbirds

    Pike Nurseries: Attracting Hummingbirds

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:05 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:05:09 GMT
    Hummingbirds and other winged wildlife can add beautiful color and movement to a garden. You can enjoy the stunning sights and sounds of these featured friends, while also helping them access food, shelter, water and sunlight with hummingbird gardening.
    Hummingbirds and other winged wildlife can add beautiful color and movement to a garden. You can enjoy the stunning sights and sounds of these featured friends, while also helping them access food, shelter, water and sunlight with hummingbird gardening.
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 | Terms of Service | Ad Choices