‘It was horrifying’: Woman killed in Allston elevator accident identified as BU lecturer - The Boston Globe

A Boston University lecturer in French who spoke of her mission to bring inclusion and community into her teaching was killed Monday in a tragic elevator accident while she was carrying a parcel into her Allston apartment building.

16elevator Dr. Carrie O’Connor a lecturer in French at Boston University’s Romance Studies Department. copy photo courtsey Boston University

O’Connor’s mother, Christal O’Connor, said in an article posted on BU Today, the university’s news site, that her daughter loved learning from an early age.

“Once she learned to read when she was just a little one, we used to have to bribe her to stop her reading and get outside,” Christal O’Connor said.

Carrie O’Connor became fascinated with French while she was in middle school and made her first trip to France in high school. She became devoted to travel, living by the motto, “Luggage should never be dusty,” her mother told BU.

“She said you shouldn’t be able to graduate college without traveling,” Christal O’Connor said. “I don’t even know all the different countries she’s been to.”

Last month, as she prepared for fall classes, Carrie O’Connor sent an e-mail to colleagues with the subject line, "The joy of learning French,” according to the statement.

“I just came across this video of Ta-Nehisi Coates giving a little interview in French at Middlebury, and I plan to find some way to incorporate it into my classes this fall,” Carrie O’Connor wrote, “For me, it encompasses so much of what we have been discussing in the French group (and [romance studies]) about inclusion, diversity, encouragement, and building community for our students.”

Leanne Scorzoni, a tenant at 1140 Commonwealth Ave., where Carrie O’Connor was killed, said she was home when the accident occurred.

"It was horrifying,” she said.

Scorzoni added that she spoke Monday night with a man who had been helping O’Connor moments before her death.

"I heard it, he saw everything,” Scorzoni said. “He was helping her with a box into the building, and he was going up the stairs, and he had told her, ‘Hey, just be careful because it’s an old fashioned [elevator].’

“I don’t know what type of elevator it is, but you have to pull the door across and then step in and then press the button,” she continued. "However, if you have something in there, it can trigger a sensor. And ... he told me, he believes that whatever she was trying to get in there hit the sensor, and then it started moving.”

Shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, police responded to a “report of trauma” in the five-story building, police said Monday. O’Connor was found dead in the elevator on the first floor, according to authorities.

Brian Alkins, a Boston Fire Department spokesman, said firefighters responded but declined further comment, citing the ongoing probe.

City of Boston property records show the building at 1140 Commonwealth Avenue was built in 1920. The mixed-use, 23,230-square-foot property is assessed at about $7.76 million.

The Division of Professional Licensure in the state Office of Public Safety and Inspections released a statement Tuesday indicating the elevator had been recently inspected, though the precise date wasn’t provided.

“The incident is under investigation and the department will continue working with first responders and other authorities to determine the cause of this accident" the statement said. "The elevator was recently inspected and was certified in accordance with state regulations. The department extends its deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the victim during this difficult time.”

Scorzoni said the man who helped O’Connor was using a staircase located next to the elevator.

“So he was walking up the staircase and was just talking to her. And he just said, ‘Oh, I don’t think that’s gonna fit in there.’ And then she’s like, ‘Oh, I’ll try it one more time,’ ” Scorzoni said. “And then I heard her screaming, and I heard him screaming.”

The man, Scorzoni said, was shouting and pointing when she came out of her first-floor apartment.

“I thought someone had fallen down the staircase,” Scorzoni said. “When I looked at the elevator, it was not there. Only the ceiling of the car was on my floor, so all the cables were there.”

Scorzoni said she didn’t know O’Connor personally.

“She was only here for a few weeks,” Scorzoni said. “I don’t know who she was. ... But everyone is horrified, everyone is. We feel awful, especially since this was someone who was just moving in and just going about her day-to-day business.”

Scorzoni said she’s lived in the building with her husband for a year and a half and hasn’t had any issues with the elevator, though it is old and only fits two people at most.

“I will say it is extremely heavy to pull it, to pull the door shut,” Scorzoni said. “And when you are waiting downstairs and press the button, it doesn’t always descend. And when it does descend, the floors sometimes do not automatically line up.”

Another building resident, Eric Carmichael, said his wife heard screaming during the accident.

“She said it was terrifying," Carmichael said. "All she saw from her angle was just some arms [of the victim] holding the package.”

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