A missing man was discovered Tuesday inside a stuck elevator in the Bronx apartment building where he was headed to deliver food four days ago.
Ming Kung Chen, 35, was taken to Montefiore Medical Center to be treated for dehydration. He was released Tuesday afternoon.
“He wants to thank everyone who spent time looking for him in the past four days,” said Chen’s friend Tina Lin, at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Chen, who doesn’t speak much English, was reported missing Friday night after not returning from a delivery to Tracey Towers, a massive apartment complex near the Mosholu Parkway in Bedford Park. His bicycle was found outside and there were fears he had been mugged, or worse, for the money he was carrying. Police searched the building over the weekend, but didn’t locate him.
Just before 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, the Fire Department received a call about an elevator stuck between the fourth and fifth floors.
Chen says he was finally able to alert building workers through an emergency intercom. The Fire Department, with the help of a mechanic, was able to bring the elevator down to the lobby.
“They called us because somebody was communicating to the building personnel through the intercom system,” said Peter Chadwick of FDNY Ladder Company 27. “They told us, ‘We think the guy is drunk.’ We said to ask him what floor he is on. They said, ‘We can’t understand what the guy is saying. He’s drunk.’ Little did they know he wasn’t drunk; he was probably felling the effects of being on the elevator for four days.”
Police had searched the building over the weekend. Tracey Towers’ management says the first time anyone heard the elevator alarm was Tuesday morning.
The Department of Buildings says a repairman came to the building Monday afternoon and cut power to the elevator when he noticed it wasn’t working. Another mechanic came by Tuesday morning, saw it wasn’t running and tried the intercom. That’s how he discovered someone was inside. The elevator was brought down to the lobby and Chen was taken out.
“For a guy who was supposedly there for three days, he didn’t look too bad to me, but he was a little wobbly when he was walking,” said Chadwick. “I have no idea how he felt because we weren’t able to communicate with him.”
When he was brought to the hospital, the emergency room doctor said Chen looked disheveled and very tired and was suffering from mild to moderate dehydration.
“He felt dizzy, lightheaded, had some headache he felt weak,” said Dr. Babak Toosi of Montefiore Hospital. “I believe at some point he almost passed out, but he actually never lost consciousness in the elevator.”
When asked at the news conference if he ever tried to use the intercom or emergency bell, Chen didn’t answer. Police sources say his family told them he is in this country illegally.
City Councilman John Liu accused the NYPD of violating a Bloomberg administration policy not to reveal anyone’s immigration status out of concern federal authorities might take action. The department responded that it did not give out the information, saying it can’t be blamed if the news media use their sources.
As for Chen, he says he may sue building management, because tenants say elevators there are often broken.
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