Margaret Elizabeth Harrison was killed at the Gulf Coast home of Jean Blair on Tuesday when a homemade elevator malfunctioned, news sources report. Harrison, 66, was pronounced dead at the home, and the homemade elevator has since been shut down. An investigation is ongoing; so far, there have not been any charges. It is unclear whether Harrison’s family will file for damages.
According to reports, the incident occurred around 7:30 Tuesday morning at Blair’s home in Golf Coast. Sources say the home, which Blair and her husband share, was constructed around 17 years ago. Blair’s husband fitted the home with the elevator to help Blair, who uses an electric wheelchair, get around the house. Based on reports, Blair’s husband made the elevator using a forklift, welded materials, and wood. Following the incident, Blair and her husband reportedly said the elevator had been maintained on a monthly basis and never had any issues in the past. Blair’s husband’s name was not released.
On Tuesday, Harrison reportedly visited her friend at 7:30 a.m. Blair used the elevator to travel from the third floor of the house to the second, then sent the elevator to the first floor for Harrison, reports say. Blair waited until 9 a.m. for Harrison, then became worried and called Harrison’s boyfriend.
Harrison’s boyfriend, who was not named in the news, went to Blair’s home and found Harrison’s car in the driveway, reports say. He then went inside and switched the elevator on. Harrison’s body was reportedly underneath. The boyfriend called 911, and Harrison was soon pronounced dead at the scene. The incident is being ruled an accident, although it is not yet clear how Harrison became trapped underneath the device.
Officials with the Hernando County Building Department, upon investigation, discovered that there were no permits allowing such a device in the home, reports say. The elevator was also not properly wired, which the department determined was unsafe and illegal, sources indicate. The building department has since decommissioned the elevator, reports say.
When designed improperly, normal home devices can pose numerous risks. Earlier this month, Luis Fabian Chirino, Juan Chirino, William Hernandez, and Guillermo Valdes were injured at a Hialeah Gardens home when a customized grill became unstable and exploded, reports say. Luis sustained serious injuries, while Hernandez, Juan, and Valdes all sustained less serious injuries. Police are investigating the incident to determine whether a defect in the custom-made grill led to the accident. Police do not appear to have filed any charges thus far. It is unclear whether the victims will file a suit.
Reports say the incident occurred during the 4th of July holiday at a cookout at Luis’s home in Hialeah Gardens. Luis reportedly has a custom-built grill and oven on a patio in the back yard of his house, where he held a cookout to celebrate his son’s homecoming. Police have not publicly identified the grill’s manufacturer. While it is still not clear why, reports say the gas tank affixed to the grill exploded during the cookout. All four victims were in the proximity of the explosion and sustained burns.