A 7-year-old boy died over the weekend in an elevator accident at a beach rental home located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, The Washington Post reports. The child’s family was visiting from Canton, Ohio, and had arrived at the residence just hours before the incident occurred. 

Rich Shortway, fire chief in Corolla, N.C., said the boy sustained a neck injury after being trapped between the moving elevator’s inner accordion door and an outer door. The child was rescued, but couldn’t be resuscitated, and was pronounced dead at the scene. “It’s just such a terrible tragedy,” Shortway said. 

The child’s death spotlights a recurring flaw that has been known for decades involving residential elevators, specifically the gap between the elevator door and the floor landing door where children have been known to get stuck. If a kid finds themselves in that situation, the results can be deadly since both doors are locked whenever the elevator is in motion. 

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) records indicate at least eight children have been killed between 1981 and 2019 from “elevator entrapments,” however, experts believe the number is “significantly higher.” An inexpensive $100 foam or plastic insert could be used to plug the gap, but industry officials have pushed back against calls to remedy the problem, claiming it isn’t their responsibility. 

In 2019, the CPSC opted against issuing a recall or simply fixing the issue, and instead chose to post a safety alert on its website. The board finally caved on a recall last year when the Otis Elevator Co. voluntarily agreed to inspect about 5,000 home elevators and conduct any necessary repairs.