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Questions remain after man is crushed by elevator at Tradewinds Resort in St. Pete Beach

8:05 AM, Apr 25, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PETE BEACH, Florida -- Mark Johnson never saw it coming. The 45-year-old technician was crushed by an elevator car while cleaning out the base of the elevator shaft at the TradeWinds Resort on St. Pete Beach.

Reports indicate the elevator was immobilized on the second floor, so what happened is puzzling.

"The elevator was locked. Protocol had been taken, from what I'm told, to make sure that no one could access the elevator while work was going on. And it's under investigation as to how the elevator fell," said Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Cristen Rensel.

Outside Johnson's home, news of the tragic accident spread quickly. His cousin, Brad Iturriaga, spoke briefly to 10 News. "Great, great dad and a great family man. He's got two younger boys, he worked really hard to have a place for them," said Iturriaga.

Related story: Mark Johnson remembered as "great family man"

The pictures of Johnson, provided by the family, show a dedicated father. His employer, SWS Environmental Services, considered his work exemplary. So what went wrong? If the elevator was locked, why did it move?

"The worker was down, cleaning out the bottom of the elevator.  We don't know how it came down on him. That's part of the investigation," said St. Pete Beach Fire Marshal Ernie Hand.

10 News also spoke with Keith Overton, the president and CEO of Tradewinds, who said all the elevators on the property had just been inspected, and there were no issues.

"Our hearts go out to the Johnson family. We feel so heartbroken for them. We don't know what went wrong," said Overton.

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