Sarah Gross, like many people, has thought about what it would be like to get stuck in an elevator. How she would react? What would she do?
She had the chance to answer those questions with first hand experience after stepping into an elevator after the Cleveland Browns game Sunday. Within a second, “you just kinda heard this thud.”
“It just stopped,” she told WJW-TV.
About 14 people were trapped in the elevator of the Penton Media Building as they were heading to their cars from the game, which took place at FirstEnergy Stadium. For an more than an hour, the people remained jammed together.
“A young boy standing next to me said ‘yeah, I actually texted someone right as I walked in.’ He said it’s been about an hour since I sent that text,” Gross told the local news outlet.
Getting a bit impatient — and potentially claustrophobic — the group eventually, even though they had told someone over the emergency speaker they were stuck, cracked the door and began shouting into the lobby for help.
“A security guard was standing in front of the elevator and he came to the crack and said ‘oh, we have it under control. We can’t call 911. We have it under control,’” Gross said.
Without cellphone service in the elevator, the group was getting more uneasy as time passed. Gross stuck her cellphone through the crack of the elevator doors.
“I said ‘oh my gosh, I’ve got two bars!’ Everyone was so excited and they were like call 911,” she said.
Eventually, firefighters and building management freed the trapped Browns fans. To get out, people had to sit on the floor of the elevator and jump into the lobby.
They were told the elevator likely stopped because too many people were on board.
Watch WJW’s interview with Gross:
In case you were wondering, there is not a scientifically recognized or formally named phobia for fearing elevators or fearing getting trapped in them. It is frequently associated with claustrophobia though.
In 2011, ABC News reported Dr. Todd Farchione with the Center for Anxiety-Related Disorders at Boston University, noting that only 8 percent of the American population has some sort of phobia. Of those, only 2 percent have situational-specific phobias, which could include a fear of elevators.
ABC’s 20/20 has 20 tips to help those with a fear of riding in elevators make to the next floor.