Elevator crowded past capacity likely the cause when 18 people became trapped at KC business park

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On one of the hottest days so far this summer, 18 people ended up trapped on an elevator. The numbers on the elevator appear to have played a role in it becoming stalled.

The emergency happened inside an underground business park near 31st and Mercier. Records show the elevator passed its last three city annual inspections. The acting president of the company, which owns the property, thinks riders not paying attention is what lead to the incident.

“I am claustrophobic person so I couldn`t breathe, and like four girls more couldn`t breathe too,” said Manuela Salazar.

She is one of the people freed from a crowded, elevator in the downtown industrial park. First responders were concerned about the conditions inside

"In that closed environment that heat can take over pretty quickly, and you may have some heat cramps, heat stroke. Things like that,” said James Garrett with the Kansas City Fire Department.

At one point crews say three people collapsed. Fortunately, no serious injuries weren’t reported.

In fact, there were some smiles, and even hi-fives among those who were rescued.

“We provided several cases of water for them and once they drank water and started talking about it, then there was laughing and joking and they seemed to be doing just fine,” said Walt Clements.

He is the acting president and CEO of Dean Realty Co., the company that owns the business park. He says the group was making its way down to The Cave Bouldering Gym on the bottom level for a little rock climbing, when they became trapped.

Clements believes user error is what caused that to happen. Posted next to the elevator is a sign that reads no more than 6-riders are allowed at once. As FOX 4 rode along in the elevator with Clements, he expressed surprise that so many even made it inside.

He thinks they weren’t paying attention, but is glad everyone made it out safely. Clements says about twice a year, the property conducts safety seminars with police and fire for tenants. He says perhaps it`s time to make that 'limit of 6 riders' sign even bigger.

FOX 4 researched the history of this elevator, and found a history of previous inspection fails between 2001 and 2014. However, the elevator passed its last three annual inspections.