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Man Decapitated By Malfunctioning Elevator

Sat., Jan. 7, 1995

An elevator that workers said had repeatedly malfunctioned in the last two months killed a man Friday in a Bronx welfare center, on the same day that a mechanic came to repair the elevator, police said.

The man, James Godfrey Chenault, was decapitated about 9 a.m. when the elevator suddenly shot up while he was straddling its open doorway.

The problem apparently started on the first floor, police said, when several passengers, including Chenault, 55, who had worked in the building as a welfare clerk for about eight years, boarded the elevator.

It seemed to rise too quickly to the second floor, according to witnesses, and when the doors opened there, passengers tried to get out.

Chenault straddled the doorway and tried to help his fellow passengers off the elevator, the police said. One person made it out. But with the doors still open, the elevator continued its climb, beheading Chenault.

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