State Proposes To Make Home Elevators Safer - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

State Proposes To Make Home Elevators Safer

Posted: Updated:
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - After an I-Team investigation into the dangers of residential elevators to children, the state says it's ready to make them safer. The insurance and fire safety commissioner plans to propose changes that he hopes will make Georgia a "trendsetter" in elevator safety.

It was video of Jacob Helvey struggling with severe brain damage after getting trapped in a home elevator that prompted the state's top man for elevator safety to start calling meetings.

"Because I don't want this to happen again," said Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

Mr. Hudgens, the insurance and safety fire commissioner, will propose a change in the state's residential elevator code - one that he hopes will prevent children from getting injured in home elevators.

RELATED STORIES: Investigation into home elevators nominated for SE Regional Emmy Award

"I think that once we do this and some other states take the same approach that we are, that they'll change the national standard."

To understand the proposed change, you have to understand how Jacob got trapped.

Most home elevators have a main hallway door entrance then a second gate that's actually attached to the elevator cabin. The current national standard indicates the space between the two should not be more than fives inches wide.

But here's the problem: Hard-to-watch animation from the Helveys show how they believe Jacob stepped through one door but not the other. The elevator started moving and the child fit into that five-inch gap because a flexible, accordion door, says his family, spread open. He was crushed.


John Koshak is a national elevator safety expert. He told Georgia's elevator committee that with the accordion door the five-inch gap quickly got bigger.

"In fact, at the Helvey home it was eight inches," said John Koshak.

The commissioner wants to go to a smaller, three-inch space, but his proposal doesn't yet account for the extra room accordion doors offer.

"It's fantastic news," said Jacob's mother Brandi Helvey.

Mike Helvey chimed in, sounding relieved, "Finally."

Both Mike and Brandi Helvey say it's a step in the right direction, but the Helvey's attorney says this proposal still wouldn't have prevented Jacob's devastating accident.

Andy Cash says with the new rule change Jacob most likely would have still been injured.

Mr. Cash said, "He could have fit."

The Helveys think the state is at the finish but in danger of stopping before the race is over.

"I think the next step is mandating the bi-fold doors shouldn't be used," said Mike Helvey. His wife agrees, "Because they're adding an extra three inches."

The new proposal could bet voted on at a July 24th meeting. If OK'd, the new rule will go into effect January 2015.

And finally, as far as we know, the new rule would only address new elevator installation not retrofitting already exist systems with new safety features.

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • Mom confronts Ray McBerry over modeling request

    Mom confronts Ray McBerry over modeling request

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:04 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:04:32 GMT
    A twice-failed candidate for Georgia governor found himself face-to-face with a mother furious over what he was trying to do this month with her teenage daughter.
    A twice-failed candidate for Georgia governor found himself face-to-face with a mother furious over what he was trying to do this month with her teenage daughter.
  • Does social media make you spend more money?

    Does social media make you spend more money?

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:49 AM EDT2014-07-30 12:49:39 GMT
    The notion of 'Keeping up with the Jones' is not new, but there is a new pressure coming at you. Peer pressure - whether you're 13 or 33 - is a powerful thing. Now throw in social media and you have what an Atlanta counselor calls 'Keeping up with the Jones' on steroids. And if you're not careful that can get costly.
    The notion of 'Keeping up with the Jones' is not new, but there is a new pressure coming at you. Peer pressure - whether you're 13 or 33 - is a powerful thing. Now throw in social media and you have what an Atlanta counselor calls 'Keeping up with the Jones' on steroids. And if you're not careful that can get costly.
  • Unresolved bank errors? Help is on the way

    Unresolved bank errors? Help is on the way

    Monday, July 28 2014 8:11 AM EDT2014-07-28 12:11:30 GMT
    Taking on a big bank, even over something like a minor bank error, can be maddening. You feel like no one is listening. It's like being trapped in a maze you can't get out of, but somebody is noticing how frustrating that can be.
    Taking on a big bank, even over something like a minor bank error, can be maddening. You feel like no one is listening. It's like being trapped in a maze you can't get out of, but somebody is noticing how frustrating that can be.
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Good Day ArchiveMore>>

  • Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

  • Big E celebration comes to North Georgia

    Big E celebration comes to North Georgia

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:40 AM EDT2014-07-30 13:40:00 GMT
    You know what the "Big E" is, right? Elvis! And the King is being celebrated in North Georgia this weekend! The 11th Annual Big E Fest and ETA Competition happens this weekend in Cornelia, GA.
    You know what the "Big E" is, right? Elvis! And the King is being celebrated in North Georgia this weekend! The 11th Annual Big E Fest and ETA Competition happens this weekend in Cornelia, GA.
  • Does social media make you spend more money?

    Does social media make you spend more money?

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:49 AM EDT2014-07-30 12:49:39 GMT
    The notion of 'Keeping up with the Jones' is not new, but there is a new pressure coming at you. Peer pressure - whether you're 13 or 33 - is a powerful thing. Now throw in social media and you have what an Atlanta counselor calls 'Keeping up with the Jones' on steroids. And if you're not careful that can get costly.
    The notion of 'Keeping up with the Jones' is not new, but there is a new pressure coming at you. Peer pressure - whether you're 13 or 33 - is a powerful thing. Now throw in social media and you have what an Atlanta counselor calls 'Keeping up with the Jones' on steroids. And if you're not careful that can get costly.
Powered by WorldNow

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices