Elderly man in China falls 8m to his death after son-in-law opens lift shaft door

Candice Cai
Oct 9, 2018

Yet another tragic lift accident in China captured on surveillance footage have left netizens shocked yet puzzled.

On Sept 24 at about 1pm, an elderly man fell 8m down a lift shaft to his death, seconds after his son-in-law opened the lift door to investigate a possible malfunction.

The bewildering circumstances surrounding the death is played out in a short 42-second CCTV clip which went viral on Weibo last Friday (Oct 5).

The pair is seen in the video waiting at the landing area, presumably for the lifts to arrive. The younger man, identified only by his surname Zhou, then inexplicably uses a key to open the lift door on the right. 

As he holds the door open, his father-in-law, who is standing behind him, makes his way to the door. Not realising that the lift hasn't yet arrived, he takes a fatal step and falls into the empty lift shaft.

Netizens who watched the video immediately questioned why Zhou held keys to the lift door in the first place and cast doubts on whether the case was indeed an accident.

Others were curious as to why the elderly man would step into the shaft that was obviously dark and empty.

Some reports also blamed the younger man's impatience for causing his father-in-law's death.

According to a Sina report, reporters managed to get hold of Zhou, who furnished them with more details about the accident.

Zhou said that he had brought his father-in-law back to their home in Cengong County to celebrate Mid-Autumn festival on Sept 24. After that, the elderly man requested to visit relatives living in the area.

"Coincidentally, the relative's residence also happens to be my workplace," said Zhou, who is an electrician in a property management company.

While they were waiting for the lifts on the first floor, Zhou said he noticed a problem with the display panel beside one of the lifts.

"I couldn't see which floor the lift was on, and the arrows were flickering," said Zhou. Deciding that he should investigate, Zhou then unlocked and opened the lift doors, leading to the tragic accident.

"After opening the doors I was looking in and I forgot about dad, I didn't realise he was behind me," said Zhou.

Zhou added that he tried to grab a hold of his father-in-law as he fell but failed. The report added that the family is currently following up on the case with the property management office. 


Here are 10 safety tips when riding in lifts to prevent mishaps from occurring, according to Sina.

1. Don't linger between lift doors when going in or out

Accidents occur the most often due to faulty doors. Hence, it is best not to linger in between lift doors when they open.

2. Don't press lift buttons repeatedly

They may cause the buttons to malfunction.

3. Don't lean on lift doors

Whether you are in the lift or waiting for one, avoid resting on lift doors, as you won't know if the door is faulty.

4. Don't use your hands, feet or items to prevent lift doors from closing.

5. Don't bring wet umbrellas into the lift

Water may seep into the lift shaft and cause a short circuit.

6. Check before entering

In 2003, a freak accident occurred after two people - a man and woman - plunged to their deaths after hastily stepping into a "lift" without looking. The outer doors had opened but the lift car had not yet arrived.

7. Don't attempt to retrieve items that have fallen into the lift shaft

8. Don't jump or perform vigorous movements that may shake the lift while it is moving

9. If the lift stalls, don't attempt to force open the lift doors

At times like these, the safest place would actually be within the lift car.

10. Don't breach lift capacity limits

If the alarm sounds, it is a warning that should not be ignored. Just step out of the lift.