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'Gruesome' elevator accident at Boston apartment building that killed woman under investigation

Neighbors say that a woman was trying to load a box into the elevator when it appeared to suddenly drop between floors.

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A Boston University lecturer was killed in an elevator accident in the city's Allston neighborhood.

The Boston Police Department said that officers were called to an apartment building on Commonwealth Ave. just before 5:15 p.m. Monday for a report of trauma.

"I heard someone that was bringing in a package out in the hallway, and then I heard an ungodly scream," said neighbor Leanne Scorzoni. "Then we ran out into the hallway, and we saw a gentleman who was obviously in distress. He was screaming and hyperventilating, saying: 'She's dead! She's dead!'"

Eric Carmichael, another resident of the building, said his wife also heard the screams, but quickly discovered that there was nothing she could do.

"She didn't want to tell me the details because it was kind of gruesome," Carmichael said.

Officers found the victim, who has been identified as 38-year-old Carrie O'Connor, in the elevator on the first floor. She was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Boston University's executive director of media relations, Colin Riley, confirmed to sister station WCVB that O'Connor was working as a French lecturer at the university.

According to BU, she had previously taught students at Northeastern University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, Bentley University and Louisiana State University, where she earned her Ph.D. in French Studies.

Neighbors told WCVB that O'Connor, who recently moved into the building, was trying to load a box into the elevator when it appeared the elevator suddenly dropped between floors.

"We were on the first floor and the roof of the elevator car was visible to me," Scorzoni said. "Everything was down, but I could see the cables and the roof of the car, so the car had to have gone at least halfway down."

Boston police said the cause of O'Connor's death was accidental, traumatic asphyxiation.

A person who was suffering from shock was transported from the scene to an area hospital, police said.

Boston's Inspectional Services Department said the elevator is overseen by the state.

In a statement, a spokesperson from the state's Division of Professional Licensure said members of the Office of Public Safety and Inspections responded to the scene and determined that the elevator was recently inspected and certified in accordance with state regulations.

"The department extends its deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the victim during this difficult time," the statement reads.

The Office and Public Safety and Inspections will continue to work with first responders and other authorities to determine the cause of the accident.