FORT WORTH, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A newly-released state report concluded that brake failure is to blame for an elevator accident that critically injured a nurse at Fort Worth’s John Peter Smith Hospital.

That nurse, Carren Stratford suffered significant brain damage. She was walking through the open doors January 20 when the elevator began to rise, causing her to lose her balance and fall, half way in and half way out of the elevator car.

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Her attorney, Frank Branson, said she was crushed, leaving her unable to breathe.

“She has significant  brain damage and that’s gonna be with her the rest of her life. She has mobility issues. She has cognitive issues. It’s been a real tragedy,” he said.

Branson said Stratford has since regained the ability to talk and to move around for short periods, but that she will require care for the rest of her life.

Carren Stratford – JPS Hospital nurse (courtesy: attorney Frank Branson)

The worn brake shoes and frozen pins on the elevator that caused her injuries “illustrated a lack of routine maintenance and equipment checks,” the state inspector wrote. Additionally, “the brake shoes did not set and both the left and right brake shoes were ‘worn down’ and that combined with problems with the actuating pin created, ‘a serious deficiency in the braking system.’ ”

In a video released by The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, a hospital representative describes the attempt to free Stratford as she was pinned between two floors.

“They had someone up here pushing the person down and someone downstairs pulling the person out,” she said.

“Dear Jesus,” responds an investigator.

In TDLR’s video, a mechanic is able to move the brake pulley by hand, something investigators said shouldn’t be possible with the elevator at rest.

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“It shouldn’t be turning,” says a voice in the video.

JPS tweeted that it “remains focused on the continued recovery of our nurse, and the safety of our team members, patients & visitors. We have already moved forward with Southwest Elevator, the company working to ensure our elevators are properly repaired and maintained.”

Thyssenkrupp, the company that was responsible for elevator maintenance at JPS sent CBS 11 News the following statement:

“We have reviewed the state’s preliminary report and appreciate TDLR’s investigation of the tragic accident that occurred at JPS Hospital on January 20, 2019. From the beginning, we have been focused on determining the cause of this accident and ensuring this never happens again. We remain deeply committed to the safety of the riding public as well as the recovery of Nurse Carren Stratford. As our internal investigation of the incident is ongoing, and given the sensitivity of the matter, we will not be commenting further moving forward.”

Stratford remains in the hospital following the January 2019 incident.


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