Officials investigating CSULB death

By Kasia Hall, Caitlin O’Connor and Erin Spandorf

Published Dec.r 7, 2011The Daily 49er

Officials are investigating the circumstances of an accident that involved the death of a Cal State Long Beach employee Wednesday morning.

Annette Lujan, 48, of Huntington Beach was crushed and killed by an elevator in the university’s Foundation building, where she worked in the Office of University Research for nine years.

The elevator was stuck between the second and third floors but when Lujan tried to escape, the elevator dropped on her, according to Capt. Rich Brandt of the Long Beach Fire Department.

A person was also trying to assist Lujan out of the elevator, according to Toni Beron, associate vice president of university relations.

The Foundation building was evacuated at 9:23 a.m., according to Terri Anderson, scholarship coordinator for the California Student Opportunity and Access program, and it remained closed for the entire day.

“I was about to approach the building when I heard a bunch of screaming and they had us evacuate the building,” said Shantasia McBride, a senior CSULB student.

At 9 a.m., University Police received a call reporting that an individual was stuck in an elevator. Beron said Lujan died before the police and Long Beach Fire Department arrived.

The Urban Search and Rescue Team lifted the elevator, estimated to weigh about 2,000 pounds, off of the woman — a process that took about an hour and 15 minutes, according to Brandt.

The cause of the malfunction is still under investigation, according to Beron.

“This is a very sad tragedy for our campus community,” CSULB President F. King Alexander said via email. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family members and friends.”

CSULB emergency notifications were sent out to students via email and phone, prompting some students to take extra precautions.

“I took the stairs in the library today and so did many others,” sophomore communications major Nohemi Vargas said. “There was no one waiting for the elevators, but everyone crowded the stairs. They were packed and everyone was out of breath, talking about the incident.”

However, around noon, fewer students were spotted taking the stairs.

“Some people are afraid of elevators, but I think that using them is not that big of a deal,” freshman nutrition major Melissa Chow said. “One elevator shouldn’t affect the use of all elevators on campus.”

The permits for the elevator are current and renewed yearly, according to Erika Monterroza, spokesperson for California Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Beron said the Foundation building is approximately 15-20 years old. The building has three floors and two elevators.

Krista Brooks, Valerie Graham, Zien Halwani and Stephanie Schoniger contributed to this report.


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