Elevator execs indicted over fatality

Kyodo News

Prosecutors indicted a total of five executives of elevator maker Schindler Elevator K.K. and maintenance company SEC Elevator Co. on Thursday over a fatal accident in 2006 after determining they failed to take sufficient safety measures.

No arrests were made, but the executives — the president of SEC Elevator, two other SEC officials and two midlevel Schindler managers — are expected to face trial over the death of 16-year-old Hirosuke Ichikawa, who was crushed to death June 3, 2006, by a malfunctioning elevator in his Tokyo housing complex.

According to prosecutors, Schindler, a wholly owned Japan unit of Swiss elevator maker Schindler Holdings Ltd., which is the world’s second-largest elevator manufacturer, was in charge of maintaining the elevator from its installation in April 1998 to April 2005.

The elevator came to an emergency stop in November 2004 due to an abnormality in its braking system, but Schindler did not report this to the firm that took over the maintenance checks.

SEC took over responsibility for the elevator’s maintenance in April 2006 and failed to detect the abnormality before the fatal accident took place two months later.

Ichikawa was killed when the elevator ascended while he was backing his bicycle out on the 12th floor, wedging him between the floor of the elevator and the top of the door frame.

This March, the Metropolitan Police Department sent papers to prosecutors on two Schindler executives, the SEC president and three others.

When Alfred Schindler, chairman of Schindler Holdings, visited Japan in May, he denied the firm was criminally responsible for the accident.

Ichikawa’s parents are suing Schindler and others for ¥250 million in damages over their son’s death.