Hospital patient dies in elevator accident

Kenner man was headed to surgery

Tuesday July 22, 2003

By Matt Scallan
Kenner bureau

A 76-year-old man on his way to surgery was killed when an elevator crushed him Monday at Kenner Regional Medical Center.

L.A. Brown of Kenner was being moved on a gurney from the hospital's fourth floor to the second floor. As the attendant pulled the gurney from the elevator, the elevator car dropped several feet, pinning Brown's legs between the roof of the car and the gurney, said Capt. Steve Caraway, a Kenner Police Department spokesman.

The investigation is continuing, Caraway said.

"We're deeply saddened by the tragic turn of events, and our thoughts and prayers are with the patient and his family," said Debbie Keel, the hospital's chief executive officer. "We take any loss very seriously and are carefully examining the circumstances of this tragic accident."

Hospital officials would not release further information about Brown, citing patient confidentiality laws. But relatives and neighbors said he was hospitalized more than a week ago for dehydration. Stephanie Brown, his granddaughter, said doctors told a relative that Brown was scheduled for exploratory surgery for a tumor in his colon.

Brown's son, Leroy Brown Jr., said his father was a retired railroad and construction worker who loved to fish.

Kenner firefighters used air bags and other braces to remove Brown's body, Fire Chief Mike Zito said.

"We had to use a lot of special equipment to do this while making sure no one else was hurt, but it's the kind of thing that we train for," Zito said.

The attendant moving Brown from the elevator was not hurt.

The eight Otis-brand elevators in the Tenet-owned hospital were inspected in January by Schindler Elevator Corp., a hospital contractor. In documents filed with the city of Kenner, Schindler said the elevators were tested according to national standards.

"Even though this inspection has been performed, it does not ensure that every defect that could exist in the equipment has been found," Schindler concluded in its inspection report.

Caraway said elevator technicians were already at the hospital when police arrived Monday morning. He said the hospital might have called for service before the accident occurred.