A Manhattan woman was recovering at home Thursday after falling down an elevator shaft around midnight.
Jolanda Joyce, 28, fell about 10 feet inside 404 East 105th Street, which is part of the East River Houses in East Harlem.
Joyce said she went to step into the elevator, but the elevator was not there. She was treated for back injuries at St. Luke's Hospital.
In an exclusive video interview with NY1, Joyce said she expects to be bedridden for several weeks after the harrowing incident. She said she suffered severe bruising to her back, side and leg muscles, and will need physical therapy.
"I turned around to get my phone from a friend and I opened the elevator door and I took a step and I just fell," she explained. "There was no elevator there. I landed on my side and my back and I couldn't move. I was stuck down there. I was down there for almost an hour."
Joyce said she was lying on the bottom of the shaft as friends stopped the elevator from descending by holding it on the sixth floor.
City officials expressed outrage, as New York City Housing Authority managers had said recently that more money would be spent on its elevator operations. NYCHA Chairman Tino Hernandez was also grilled by City Council members Wednesday on the conditions of Housing Authority elevators.
"For residents of NYCHA developments, this is an experience that doesn't surprise anybody," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. "This is the part of living in NYCHA housing."
Hernandez responded in a statement, "After an initial review of last night's elevator incident at East River Houses, NYCHA is immediately suspending the elevator team that responded to the reported outage. The review revealed that standard procedures may not have been followed."
Residents in East River Houses were concerned about their safety.
"I don't want my son running into the elevator when I open the door, because that's what he usually does," said a resident.
Others noted that the doors to the elevator in Joyce's building open so that they block the view of the shaft.
Both the Housing Authority and the Department of Buildings were investigating the incident Thursday.
Sources close to the investigation remained suspicious Thursday and were exploring the possibility that the accident was intentionally created in order to file a false claim.
Sources also cited witnesses who observed Joyce and her companion forcibly opening the elevator doors when the elevator was not present.
A recent report says 75 percent of NYCHA elevators have failed or nearly failed inspection in the past five years.