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Sand suspected culprit in Brainerd City Hall elevator entrapment

A Dial-A-Ride driver entered the elevator about 2:30 p.m. The doors closed, but the elevator did not move. The driver contacted officials in the transit office to inform them of his situation, who in turn called upon Jeff Hulsether, city engineer.

A Dial-A-Ride driver was the unlucky person who became trapped Friday afternoon in the elevator in Brainerd City Hall.

Jeff Hulsether, city engineer, said the driver entered the elevator about 2:30 p.m. The doors closed, but the elevator did not move. The driver contacted officials in the transit office to inform them of his situation, who in turn called upon Hulsether.

“We were able to open the outside sliding doors, but we couldn’t open the door in the elevator box itself,” he said.

Hulsether called the elevator manufacturer’s maintenance technician who happened to visit city hall earlier that day. He also called the Brainerd Fire Department in case he and the technician were unable to find a solution.

Once the technician arrived, they were able to get the second set of doors open and free the driver, who was inside the elevator for 15-20 minutes. Assistance from the fire department was not required.

Hulsether said sand buildup in the door tracks of the elevator was to blame for the sticky situation.

“This time of year, people are tracking a lot of sand and other debris on their shoes from the snow,” he said. “In order for the elevator doors to work, they have to be shut all the way.”

Once the track was cleared of sand, the elevator operated as expected, he said.

Since the elevator’s installation as part of the 1992 remodel of city hall, Hulsether recalled one other time the elevator became stuck. Several years ago, a small pebble stopped the machine in its tracks.

Hulsether said whenever there are issues with the elevator, “(the track) is always the first thing we check.”

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchChelsey.

Chelsey Perkins

Chelsey Perkins grew up in Crosslake and is a graduate of Pequot Lakes High School. She earned her bachelor's degree in professional journalism at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Perkins interned at the Lake Country Echo and the Rochester and Austin Post-Bulletins, and also worked for the student-run Minnesota Daily newspaper as a copy editor and columnist during college. She went on to intern at Utne Reader magazine, where she was later hired as the research editor. Before becoming the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch, Perkins worked as the county government beat reporter at the Dispatch and a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal.

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