Jaumarcus McFarland: Champion Prep Academy footballer crushed by free-falling elevator

Before McFarland could get out, the elevator began free-falling. He was pinned between a wall and the elevator car for nearly an hour


                            Jaumarcus McFarland: Champion Prep Academy footballer crushed by free-falling elevator
Aspiring teen football player JauMarcus McFarland crushed by an elevator in Atlanta high rise (CBS 46)

ATLANTA, GEORGIA: A teen college prep football player was crushed to death in a freak accident. The cause was a malfunctioning elevator, which was reportedly overdue for inspection, that went into a free-fall in an Atlanta high-rise building on Tuesday, August 31. The deceased's horrified teammates bore witness to the fatal incident. JauMarcus McFarland, 18, who went to Champion Prep Academy, died after he was crushed by the elevator installed in 444 Highland Avenue Student Housing.

The incident took place as he and his teammates were making their way to practice and boarded the elevator. It went into freefall as he was trying to exit it, trapping, and crushing him. Three players boarded the elevator on the upper floor of the building. Soon after, the elevator felt as if it was beginning to fall before it stopped and opened normally on the third floor. Two of the three players walked out on the third floor but before McFarland could get out, the elevator began free-falling. He was pinned between a wall and the elevator car in the shaft for nearly an hour until help arrived. Some of other athlete whose deaths have made news recently include Samwel Uko, Cameron Burrell, Mark Eaton, and Olivia Podmore

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Atlanta police confirmed officers responded to assist fire and rescue personnel after receiving reports of a person being trapped and crushed in the elevator Tuesday afternoon. Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, which arrived on the scene and said in a report the student was 'not alert' but 'breathing' when the extrication was completed. 

'Heartbroken' teammates and coach

'Heartbroken' teammates told CBS 46 that they could not see their teammates' upper body because it was being crushed between the gap so only his bottom half was visible and left 'dangling'. "I ain't even got the words," a shaken teammate said. "His feet were moving at first. Then it stopped. He went unconscious." Another teammate said that McFarland and he had only just met but they instantly bonded. "We all came here for school. I came here three weeks ago, and we instantly clicked, so seeing somebody I'm close with like that, it hurts," he said. 

Officials from Champion Prep Academy, which is a post-graduate academic-athletic program that helps 'bridge the gap' between high school and college for students who want to earn a four-year scholarship at four-year colleges, confirmed the 18-year-old died from his injuries. Georgia Prep Academy Football Coach Michael Carson said that he was in agony over the loss of one of his student-athletes. “JauMarcus was definitely one of those kids that had the potential. You spend your whole life really trying to help kids, particularly our kids, and to have him go out like this, it’s just really heart-wrenching,” Carson said through tears. He also recounted some of McFarland's final moments. “They had to revive him there,” he explained. “They got a heartbeat. They rushed him around the corner to Atlanta Medical Center. He went out again. They were able to bring him back. Then he went out a third time.”

Residents had complained about elevator

Some residents in the building said that the elevator was not entirely predictable and that they had been complaining about it for a while. One of them even provided CBS 46 with images of the elevator inspection certificate which shows that the last inspection was done in August of 2019. It was due for an inspection in August of 2020, over a year ago. The resident said that she took the photo back in July to have "in case something ever happened," CBS 46 reported.  

In a statement to CBS 46, a spokesperson with the Office of Commissioner of Insurance said, “Elevators are required to be inspected annually – and it is the responsibility of the permit holder (whether that’s the building owner, manager, etc.) to request an inspection from our office.” Nathan Phillips, Property Manager at the 444 student housing said in a statement, "First, we want to offer our sincere condolences to the family of this young man, his teammates, and his friends. The state inspectors will release their findings in due course, so it would be inappropriate for us to discuss full details until that report is complete. What we can say is the weight capacity of the elevator was 3000 lbs — but the 16 young athletes who were inside the elevator when this occurred pushed that limit to nearly 4000 lbs. Unfortunately, this appears to be what started the domino effect of events leading to the unfortunate death of this young man. This is a horrible tragedy, and it deeply saddens us all that this has happened."

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