Teen dies after falling down elevator shaft at abandoned hospital

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police say a teenager has died after falling through the roof of an abandoned hospital in Port Chester, NY and down an elevator shaft.

Chris Aguilar was with friends Tuesday night on the building’s roof. On Wednesday, there was grief and renewed calls for action at the shuttered site.

The old hospital is a tempting target for teenage thrill seekers. As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, the property is easily accessed through holes in the security fence.

Many have trespassed over the years, and on Tuesday is proved a deadly decision for 14-year-old Aguilar.

“Oh, I cried and I don’t even know the boy. It’s terrible,” Marie Olson said.

The vacant hospital has been boarded up after shutting down in 2006. It’s said to be fenced off and patrolled by security guards, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported.

Police said Aguilar was with a group climbing on the roof. Officers responding to a 911 call learned Aguilar had fallen 60 feet into an elevator shaft through a hole in the roof.

Rescuers could see him, but struggled to find an access point in the abandoned hospital.

“This was particularly difficult for the first responders. Some of them had him within eyesight for two hours and it was very frustrating they couldn’t get to him,” police chief Rich Conway said.

Eventually a Westchester County Officer was lowered into the shaft. He put a harness on the victim and both were pulled up to the fourth floor.

The young man died at Greenwich Hospital.

On Wednesday, grief stricken friends attended a prayer service at Corpus Christi Church. Aguilar was remembered as a good student who loved baseball and skateboarding.

“Heartbreaking, yet unfortunately not surprising,” Joan Grangenois-Thomas said.

Grangenois-Thomas is active in a group monitoring long delayed redevelopment at the site.

Starwood Capital is planning a $350-million project including apartments and a hotel.

Many complained that Starwood allowed the property to deteriorate during the long approvals process.

“It’s unfortunate that this has to happen, and we hope Starwood does all that they can to ensure the safety of other kids,” Grangenois-Thomas said.

Starwood is headquartered just a few miles north in Greenwich.

On Wednesday, the company offered condolences to the family, and promised to work with the village to address issues raised by the tragedy.

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