Broken pin led to fatal elevator plunge, expert testifies

A pin meant to hold an elevator door in its track was broken before a 16-year-old boy was pushed against the door, which opened causing fell down the elevator shaft to his death.

A broken pin on an elevator door led to the death of a 16-year-old boy last year at an Edmonton courthouse, an inquiry into the accident has heard.

William Bear, an engineer hired to inspect the elevator door, told a fatality inquiry into Kyle Young's death that the pin meant to hold the door in its track was broken before the accident.

Young was being moved to another floor in the courthouse when he was pushed into the elevator door by a guard. But the door suddenly opened, sending Young plunging to his death.

Bear said the broken swivel pin meant moderate force would have been needed to knock the door open. He likened the amount of force needed to a 150-pound person walking into the door at a fast pace.

Bear said he believes a safety pin was broken before the accident happened, making the door easier to dislodge.

The elevator had been inspected a month before Young died.

Teen was shackled at time of fall

Young was handcuffed, shackled and with two guards when he fell five storeys down the elevator shaft at the courthouse, becoming suspended by his neck on a structural bracket.

He had been disruptive and was being moved to another floor. He had also been in an altercation with staff at the Edmonton courthouse, where he was being held on weapons charges, and police were considering charging him with assault.

Earlier in the inquiry, a 240-pound guard escorting Young said that the teen – who was known to spit on guards and had been threatening them – began squirming, and he placed his arm across the 121-pound teen's back.

He said he pushed him into the door, which then just popped open.

Elevator problems reported before accident

The inquiry heard earlier that there had been problems with the doors before, popping off their tracks, trapping guards or opening before they were supposed to.

Alberta Justice determined that the guards pushed Young against the elevator door with enough force to knock it off its tracks, but also said the guards used a "modest" amount of restraint and followed normal procedures.

Alberta Justice also decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone in connection with the death, based on an investigation done by Edmonton Police homicide detectives.

The inquiry is scheduled to continue until June 29.