Deliverance (or get this guy a good lawyer)

Posted by Zhang Fei

Looks like the New York City Housing Authority, which is the agency in charge of the city’s public housing projects, could be liable for big bucks for this elevator malfunction, assuming this guy isn’t trying to run a scam. (I always thought the maximum anyone could survive without water was 3 days).

As cops searched high and low for him, a Chinese-food deliveryman missing since Friday night says he was smack in the middle of the intensive manhunt all along — trapped in an elevator in the building where he made his last delivery.

Ming Kuang Chen, hungry and delirious with thirst, was rescued early yesterday when firefighters and mechanics pried the elevator door open, authorities said.

When asked how long he’d been in there, Chen, who speaks little English, counted to four with his fingers and spun his thumb around the dial of his watch.

“We didn’t know if that meant hours or days,” said FDNY Lt. Peter Chadwick. “He looked relieved but it was hard to understand what he was feeling.”

But how no one noticed that Chen had been stuck in the elevator for 3 1/2 days as police swarmed all around the 800-plus apartments of the Tracey Towers building in The Bronx searching for him remains a mystery.

Investigators were somewhat perplexed about his story, in part because there was no evidence Chen had urinated in the three days he was supposedly trapped, police sources said.

But Chen said he urinated through the door, “so I didn’t have to smell it.”

The elevator is equipped with an intercom, an alarm button and a closed-circuit television camera, officials said.

The building manager, R/Y Management, insists the system was working, but said no one heard a peep from Chen until yesterday morning.

“We’re certainly pleased that he is alive and well, but our indications are that he didn’t press the button until 4:10 this morning,” said spokesman Don Miller.

Chen, however, insists he rang for help for days, but that whoever answered didn’t understand him and finally shut the system off.

Chen says his odyssey began Friday night when he got into the elevator on the 35th floor after making two deliveries — shrimp fried rice and curry shrimp with onions.

The elevator car started going down normally, but then fell nearly 30 floors, he said, stopping short between the fourth and fifth floors.

The elevator is an express that doesn’t stop between the second and 21st floors, and where he was stuck is surrounded by concrete walls.

Chen said he screamed and screamed, but no one seemed to hear him. Terrified, Chen says he passed the time by meditating, and that he made sure he was always in front of the security camera so someone might finally see him.

Building employees declined to comment, but residents said the building elevators are plagued with problems.

“The elevators have always been a problem,” said Leslie Harrison, who has lived in the building for 30 years. “When you ride, it stops, it shakes, it jumps. Sometimes they drop three or four flights.”

With the proceeds of the lawsuit, the guy might even be able to pay off the loan he took out to get shipped from China to New York City – $60,000 (from NYC’s free daily tabloid, the Metro).


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