While millions rang in the new year on New York City streets, a heroic 25-year-old man rescued a woman from falling down an elevator, wishing her “Happy New Year” as he pushed her out of harm’s way — seconds later, he was fatally crushed.
Stephen Hewett-Brown got stuck in the faulty elevator shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve and died moments after saving Erude Sanchez, 43, when the elevator began to fall. Manuel Coronado, 23, who was visiting his grandmother in the building, tried to pull Hewett-Brown from the broken elevator, but was unsuccessful.
“I tried to help the guy, but he was between the elevator and the building door,” Coronado told the New York Daily News. “He was saying ‘I can’t breathe.’ “I tried to pull him up, but he said ‘Leave me here, leave me here.’”
Though he couldn’t save him, Coronado stayed nearby as the tragic scene unfolded.
“She started going in, but the elevator started going down and he pushed her out,” Coronado said, translating for the Spanish-speaking woman. “He said ‘Happy New Year’ and pushed her out.”
It was just by chance that Hewett-Brown was in the building to save Sanchez. Coronado said the man didn’t live in the 26-story apartment complex but was in the Bronx for a New Year’s Eve celebration.
Several residents reportedly dialed 911, but it was 20 to 30 minutes before any first responders arrived, even though the 7th Precinct police office was nearby, according to Coronado.
“We called and they took a long time to come,” he said. “It’s a block away. I don’t know why they didn’t come to help.”
With only a few minutes left before the New Year, the New York Fire Department finally arrived at the scene and rushed Hewett-Brown, who was in “traumatic arrest,” to New York Hospital. But it was too late, the young man could not be saved.
“I’m grieving my son,” Brown’s distraught mother told the Daily News Friday. “I’m grieving my son. We don’t want to say anything.”
The apartment building has three active city violations, all for elevator defects dating back to May of 2014. Wavecrest Management, the company who runs the complex, said no one would comment until after the holiday.
(H/T: New York Daily News)