Record For Longest Survived Elevator Fall

Grace Higgins | January 11th, 2021

If you have ever thought you were having a bad day, just think about poor Betty Lou Oliver who cheated death twice on the same day. It would probably have to be one of the worst days at work ever. Though silver lining she did earn a world record: longest survived elevator fall. It started as a normal workday, Betty clocked in at her job in the Empire State Building. Suddenly a plane crashed into the building, and then the elevator plunged by over 75 stories. Yep, you guessed it, Betty was in the elevator.

Amazingly, she survived both incidents of July 28th, 1945. She was working at the Empire State Building as an elevator attendant. But that morning it was extremely foggy and there was still World War II ongoing. Even though it was the last moments of the war, the United States was taking every military precaution. As a result, a B-25 service bomber was going on a very basic mission that transported servicemen from Massachusetts to LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

Even though Captain William Smith was an experienced and decorated pilot, the fog crept in quickly. Suddenly he found himself flying over New York with zero visibility. LaGuardia airport told him not to land but it appears Smith decided to ignore the order. He made the turn to fly over midtown Manhattan but it looks like the fog completely disoriented his path. Because instead of taking a left after the Chrysler building, Smith turned the aircraft to the right – he was now flying directly among the city’s skyscrapers. At this time the Empire State Building was the tallest skyscraper in the world. Smith crashed between the 78th to 80th floor, killing the crew members and 11 people inside the building.

In fact, it took over 2 days to find Smith’s body as it had fallen down an elevator shaft. And the inside was chaos as employees scrambled around, and people even caught fire. People said even on the 50th floor they felt the impact. Furthermore, the building shook so hard that people were thrown across the room. Of course, the worst was poor Betty inside her elevator, it suddenly dropped. Parts of the plane had struck the elevator cables, causing them to snap!

It was a total of 75 floors, over 1,000 feet drop, so Betty should have died on impact. However, all the thousands of feet of cable had fallen down the shaft before the elevator. They provided a cushioned landing, which incredibly allowed Betty to survive.

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