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Men Trapped In Elevator As Flood Water Rushed In Escape With Only A Foot Of Air Left

At one point in my life, I lived on the tenth floor of an apartment building, so I rode an elevator nearly everyday. I'm not scared of heights or tight spaces (claustrophobic), and I didn't mind catching up with my neighbors for a few minutes every once in a while, so I never really had any reason to be scared of elevators.

Of course, I've occasionally thought about getting stuck and what escape tactic I would opt for, but I've never needed to put it to use. However, a recent incident involving two men trapped in an elevator has got me and many others feeling nervous about our next elevator ride.


A few days ago, Toronto, Canada resident Klever Freire and one of his co-workers, Gabriel Otrin, were leaving their office when they became stuck in the building's elevator for 30 minutes and had a very close brush with death.

The elevator stopped working after a severe rainstorm cut off its power and the water began to flood the tiny space. Since the machine was stuck in the basement, there was no signal and the men weren't able to use the emergency phone or their cellphones to call for help.

Their harrowing ordeal only worsened when the water started to rise quickly. That's when the grave danger they were in began to hit home for Friere, who kept thinking of his 14-year-old daughter.

"I was mainly thinking about my daughter,'' Freire, 34, told reporters. "I was supposed to go pick her up two hours earlier to go for a movie, but I wasn't able to ... (the experience) was a little bit eye-opening in terms of what matters.''

Gabriel Otrin, left, and Klever Freire. Jim Rankin/Toronto Star

Knowing that they would die if they did not think of a quick solution, Freire and his colleague decided to force the ceiling panel open to restore signal to their phones. The hatch was difficult to open with their hands, so Otrin, 27, used his head. Thankfully, their plan worked and they were able to get in touch with the authorities.

By the time police swam to the elevator and pried the doors open with a crowbar, the men were neck deep in the murky water and only had a "foot of air space left" for them to breathe, according to Toronto Police spokeswoman Katrina Arrogante.

After a day of dodging reporters, the pair were finally ready to answer some questions about the "extraordinary circumstances" they found themselves in the day before. If there's one thing they agree on, it's that they wouldn't have made it out alive if they were not trapped together.

"I think it's good that both of us were there together," said Freire, "because either of us alone, there probably would have been less of a success of making it."

Costables Josh McSweeney (left) and Ryan Barnett (right), the hero officers who rescued the trapped men from the flooded elevatorToronto Police Services

The co-workers are now raising questions about elevator safety. Friere is wondering why a water sensor that could trigger an automatic emergency call wasn't installed in the first place.

Both men are also questioning why there was a need to bolt down the hatches as well as the lack of key to open the elevator from the outside.

The building's owner and other responsible parties have started to address their concerns, but it may take a while before every issue is solved as the damages caused by the flood are estimated to cost about half a million dollars to repair.

We're just glad these men managed to survive a near-death experience.

Have you ever been trapped in an elevator?

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.