Police seek engineer’s report after freak accident

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The Police sought a report from engineers involved in maintaining the elevator, in a building at Nawam Mawatha, Colombo, which crashed last morning killing a young rugby player.

The Police said that the exact cause of the accident was still unknown and that the report was being sought as they attempt to determine whether a malfunction or an overload caused the accident.
According to the Police, the elevator was checked by technicians a month ago.

Kokila Sammandaperuma, a 24-year-old CR & FC prop forward was killed when the elevator crashed after he visited “Amuseum”, a nightclub.

“Even though the elevator was checked by technicians according to the building’s owners, we have sought the engineer’s report in order to clarify if the incident took place due to a malfunction of the elevator or as a result of it being overloaded,” a police officer attached to the Police Media Division told The Sunday Morning.

According to him, a total of 12 people got into the elevator just before the incident and the deceased attempted to step out of the elevator due to an overload.

However, he got stuck in the gap between the lift and the platform, and was killed.
“The Slave Island Police are investigating the incident, so we can’t come to a conclusion on whether he tried to get out of it after the overload alarm or not.

“The maximum weight limit in the lift is 900 kg, which is 12 people. But as the Slave Island Police said, those inside the lift were heavily-built men and they therefore suspect that the cable broke when the maximum weight limit of 900 kg was exceeded,” the police noted.

“The people who were in the lift at the time of the incident got into the lift from the first floor and the lift fell only six feet,” the police officer explained.

The “Amuseum” club is situated on the ninth floor of the Green Lanka Tower building at Nawam Mawatha, the Police stated.
The Colombo National Hospital yesterday said that two people injured in the accident were not in a serious condition and that as of last afternoon only one person was receiving treatment in hospital.
Elaborating on the incident, an eyewitness who wished to remain anonymous said: “The elevator fell to the ground floor and there was a gap between the ground and the elevator. In that process, Sammandaperuma (the deceased) was dragged in and sustained head injuries.

“His foot (below the shin) and hand (below the wrist) got caught in the gap between the elevator and the concrete floor. He was stuck like that for about 30-40 minutes and was bleeding due to his head injury.
“One person broke the glass on the elevator to get out from the back.”
Sammandaperuma is the second in a family with two brothers.

When The Sunday Morning contacted the nightclub “Amuseum” to get a comment on the incident and the condition of the lift, an official of the nightclub refused to comment as Police investigations were still ongoing.

However, the Police said that once the investigation was over, if they found that the incident took place due to the elevator malfunctioning, they would take legal action against the premises. But until the engineer’s report is submitted, it was difficult for the Police to come to a conclusion.

Photo: Indika Handuwala