Brooklyn Heights

20 people trapped in Court Street R Train elevator for second time in months

‘Having Wi-Fi and cell service made everyone feel a lot better.’

January 19, 2017 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
FDNY officials removed 20 trapped passengers from the Court Street R train station elevator on Wednesday afternoon. This was the second time since the summer that the elevator has stalled with straphangers inside. Photos by Rachel Jo Silver
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A group of 20 commuters was stuck for 30 minutes in the elevator at the R train Court Street station at Clinton and Montague streets on Wednesday afternoon.

FDNY officials arrived at the lift around 4:15 p.m. and were able to remove everyone unharmed.

The situation for the straphangers was ameliorated due to the subway station’s new Wi-Fi and cell phone service, which were recently installed as part of a citywide program introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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“We had Wi-Fi and cell service so we were able to call 911 as well as use the elevator call button to contact the city,” Rachel Jo Silver, founder of, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “The fire department came very quickly and they were so wonderful! They opened a ceiling panel, climbed down with a ladder and we climbed out. So grateful for the speedy and kind work of the fire department!”

The elevator was placed out of service at 11:50 a.m. on Wednesday and is estimated to return to service at midnight on Saturday, according to the MTA’s Elevator and Escalator Outage system. The elevator is listed as “Under Investigation.”

“Everyone was really nice and I was impressed by how calm everyone was,” said Silver. “It was a little bit scary and I appreciated that no one panicked. I think having Wi-Fi and cell service made everyone feel a lot better.”

Despite the incident, Silver says she is not worried about using the subway system’s elevators in the future.

“I’m not hesitant to use the elevators, I actually feel safer! I was blown away with how fast they came to help,” she said.

This was the second time since the summer that the elevator has stalled with straphangers inside. The last instance was on June 26 when two commuters were stuck.

On that day, sisters Teresa and Rebecca Lo heard cries for help coming from inside the elevator. After hearing the screams, the Lo sisters attempted to press an MTA Customer Service Intercom button, but it wasn’t functioning. They then tried to use two other help buttons in the station, but neither of those worked either.

The sisters then went to use an emergency button, but it was covered in plastic with a “Not in Service” sign posted next to it. As a last resort, the sisters attempted to call 911 but they couldn’t get in touch with a dispatcher due to a lack of cell service.

Finally, the sisters were able to get a woman entering the station to call 911. The FDNY arrived shortly after the call was made and removed the trapped duo in roughly 10 minutes.

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