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Man Trapped in Elevator Video Becomes an Internet Hit: But Why?

I'm sure you've probably seen this video already, since it's been spreading on the Internet like a wildfire, but if you haven't, here's some background info to bring you up to speed. On Friday October 15, 1999, Nicholas White went outside for a cigarette break while working in New York's McGraw-Hill building (it was 11pm on a Friday). On his way back, the elevator stopped, and he was trapped for 41 hours.

The surveillance camera footage of those horrifying two days has just surfaced on the Internet and it has already been viewed 1.3 million times on YouTube. The video shows White panicking, pacing, trying to sleep and pry the doors apart. According to The New Yorker, who ran an entire article about the ordeal, White said that he feels as though people are so captivated by the video because they wonder what they would have done if it happened to them. I have to admit, after watching the video last week, I think about it every time I step foot in an elevator, even though I'm constantly armed with my cell phone. It also stirs up alot of emotions inside me, including frustration, sadness and hope for White. Why do you think people are so obsessed with this video?

To see the three minute time-lapse video,

elissakay elissakay 9 years
My college dorm elevator gets stuck all the time. Security is always there within 5 minutes, and you're out in 5 more, so the most that happens is that you're late for class. I must say, its pretty funny to me to see the freshmen get all wide-eyed.
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
How did this video leak?? this reminds me of the movie Untraceable where people knew that just watching things online made things worse for the subject but just kept watching. It's just torturing this poor man because now he has to relive what happened because this video came out.
stone_soup stone_soup 9 years
I think there is so much fascination with this because it really serves as a test of the human will to live and how powerful hope can be. The claustrophobia is another story altogether! It is really scary yet a relief, because there is always a way out! This guy really has my admiration. I can't imagine myself being able to stay alive for so long.
aoitenshi aoitenshi 9 years
My boyfriend got trapped for 20 minutes or so in an elevator before, and though it's nothing like what this guy went through, he's still a bit scared that it might happen again. He still feels very apprehensive every time he steps into an elevator.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
After hour 2 I would have had to pee so bad that I would have passed out from having to hold my pee pee. Then I would have gone stir crazy from lack of water. Otherwise I would have been fine. I got locked out of my car at a deserted gas station in the middle of now where in the dark. I was freezing, irritated and wondering if anyone would ever look for me or care if I was missing. I am curious as to what the building management's explanation is for why they didn't notice a stuck elevator for 41 hours and why no one ever looked at the surveillance stream to see that this guy was trapped. Also where is the safety/emergency phone or intercom and why wasn't it working. I also wonder how much time he got off for going through such an extreme possibly traumatizing situation.
nakitabanana27 nakitabanana27 9 years
this video made me sad...i agree with geeksugar about being frustrated for White..especially b/c there should have been people attending to the cameras! poor guy is right...
raieven raieven 9 years
the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again-expecting different results. poor guy :(
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Have you guys seen the one with the lady who poops in the elevator for no apparent reason and then gets out on the next floor as if nothing happened? "Has anyone noted that this is a surveillance camera?! What is the point if no one is watching it?" That's a great point!
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
oh man. i guess i'll try taking the stairs as often as I can! i have no idea what i'd do for that long. i guess i better not find myself in prison.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
Haven't even heard about this and have no desire to see the video. I'll stick to my stairs, thank you.
caryatid caryatid 9 years
i got stuck in an elevator with 4 other people for about 30 minutes and that was enough for me! we got stuck between floors and had to crawl out, it was scary.
thelivingbarbie thelivingbarbie 9 years
Has anyone noted that this is a surveillance camera?! What is the point if no one is watching it? What clued them in to the fact that he was in there? I would be so mad!
ehadams ehadams 9 years
I do feel bad for the guy though. 41 hours... I can't even imagine.
ehadams ehadams 9 years
Remember that this happened in 1999, so today I don't think this would happen the same way. For one thing, everyone has cell phones and I work in a huge office building just like this one and trust me- the phones work in the elevators. Also, the elevators have been updated a lot since then, and big expensive buildings all have their own tech guys on hand during business hours. We have emergency training all the time and the security guys here are always on call 24/7. They estimate the longest wait now would be 2 hours if it was late at night or on a weekend and they had to wait for the tech to arrive. So, don't worry too much about this happening now!
jspark jspark 9 years
I was in an elevator at work when the power went out. It was terrifying, the lights went out and it fell a little before the emergency brakes caught it. When the door finally did open it was even with a floor so my friend and I were able to jump out. Completely shook me up though. I can't imagine 40 hours.
Happsmjc Happsmjc 9 years
omg that is terrible! there were ppl working on the three other elevators simultaneously?!?! that sucks!
jendudley jendudley 9 years
I have seen this video and it is very thought provoking. I cannot even imagine being trapped for that long. Horrible!
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
Cells don't work in old elevators, especially NYC bunker like buildings.
injustica injustica 9 years
I found the NYT article before I saw anything else about it, and I must say, it would have been a harrowing experience. He tried to get out through the top or bottom, but was stuck in the middle of an express elevator -- the first stop above ground level was at floor 26 [or something like that]. He had to urinate out the door down the shaft, didn't have anything to eat or drink, and had no idea what time it was or how long he had been in there. The terrible thing was that maintenance was working on the other three elevators in the building, and there were people in the security room, so someone must have seen him in the elevator, but still he was stuck for 41 hours. Terrible.
anaisethenry anaisethenry 9 years
I'd need food!!! :lmao:
ms_dior_cherie ms_dior_cherie 9 years
That is crazy. I don't know what I would do in that situation. Luckily I do almost always have cell with me.
divinelight divinelight 9 years
I think it's required now that all new elevators are connected to phone lines that call the police in case of situations like that unless there is a 24 hour desk, then the elevators must have a line that contacts the person at that desk in an emergency.
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
I would have caught up on my sleep. I don't know why its captivating, but it is interesting to see what someone does. The cell phone thing I don't think would work. A lot of old elevators kill a cell phone signal and they never works.
ndnattie ndnattie 9 years
Poor guy! That's terrifying. I can't imagine going through that. Watching videos like that remind me to take my phone everywhere I go.
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