Updated: 11:01 p.m. 2/13/11
CHICAGO (CBS) – The death of a 63-year-old man who apparently fell off an employee “man lift’’ at a downtown parking garage and plummeted three stories to his death Saturday night was accidental, an autopsy on Sunday found.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Jan Coleman Reports
His family said they have no idea how it happened or why. CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov talked with the victim’s niece, who says it’s hell not knowing exactly what happened.
63-year-old George Davis was a three tour Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart Recipient, who currently worked as a security consultant for the U.S. Government. Davis was parking his car Saturday night at a garage at 171 N. Wabash. A short time later, police believe he attempted to ride a man lift and fell. His family doesn’t understand why a man, who faced so much danger in his life, would apparently attempt to ride that lift.
Davis’ family said he was at the garage after dropping his wife off at the Chicago Theater for the Anita Baker concert. He went back to park and never returned.
The lift Davis apparently tried to use resembles a vertical conveyor belt and requires riders to hold on to an overhead bar. It looks like a vertical conveyer belt with a handle to hold on to and a ledge to stand on. The lift was described as open-air shaft used by garage employees and valets to obtain customers’ cars on different levels of the three-story building.
Employees of the garage where Davis died said their lift is clearly marked off-limits to the public and secured. Other garage attendants said if you don’t know exactly where to step on or off, you can easily fall.
Police aren’t sure why Davis got on the lift, which officials said was blocked off and had a sign warning the public not to use it.
“We have no idea why he got on,’’ said an officer at the scene late Saturday.
A valet who used to work at the garage said the lift was normally locked and blocked by a gate.
There are stairs but no public elevator in the garage.
Paramedics were called to the garage at 7:44 p.m., Fire Media Affairs Chief Joe Roccasalva said. Davis was pronounced dead on arrival at 8:21 p.m. at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Roccasalva said.
An autopsy on Sunday found that Davis died of multiple injuries from a fall, and his death was ruled an accident, according to the medical examiner’s office.
An official with the city Buildings Department posted a sign at the garage Saturday shutting down the lift. He declined to comment.
His niece describes him as a good husband and father, with three grown sons and two step-daughters. Davis and his wife were going to the concert for her birthday, which is on Valentine’s Day.
© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.