(WSVN) - Elderly South Florida residents say one elevator in their building is broken and the second elevator often leaves them trapped or stranded, and they have had enough. Karen Hensel has tonight’s 7 Investigates.
The Imperial Club calls itself “… Aventura’s finest independent and assisted living….” facility, but video provided to 7 Investigates tells a different story.

Kenny Froom, son of a resident (cell phone video, lobby, March 5: “Here I am at the Imperial Club, as you can see one elevator is out…”

And that leaves wheelchair-bound residents stranded in the lobby.

Kenny Froom: “There’s no service on this elevator either…it’s being repaired.”

Kenny Froom — whose mom lives at Imperial Club — recorded the video.

Kenny Froom: “That means one’s down, one’s not working. There’s zero elevators here at the Imperial Club…what a disgrace.”

Broken elevators mean residents get stuck in the lobby, but some have also been stuck in the elevator.

Lillian Froom, resident: “I was stuck there in the elevator for almost two hours before they were able to release us.”

Ninety-five-year-old Lillian Froom has lived at Imperial Club for more than five years. She lives on the ninth floor.

Lillian Froom: “It’s a question of safety, not convenience.”

There are only two elevators in the 14-story-building.

One has been broken for nine months, and the other one has had its share of problems.

Listen to what happened to Lillian…

Lillian Froom: “We press nine and it jumped up to 12 and then jumped down to nine. It was the craziest thing and very frightening.”

And earlier this month, after an outing with her daughter, Lillian returned to find both elevators were out of service.

Lillian Froom: “We waited from 1 – 4 a.m. for someone to fix the elevator. It didn’t happen … At 4:00 in the morning we had to go to the Marriott to check in to stay for the night.”

Residents tell us at times they are also stuck in their units.

Lillian Froom: “For almost a week we had to stay in the room because the elevator wasn’t working.”

We have spoken with other residents. They did not want to go on camera for fear of retribution by the building’s management. But Lillian Froom — a retired school teacher from Brooklyn — says she feels the need to speak up.

Lillian Froom: “I feel a little guilty doing it, but I feel I have to do it for my sake as well as for everyone else’s.”

Kenny Froom: “We want to stand up for just not my mom but everybody in this building. These people are from 90 to 106 years. It’s a shame. It’s a disgrace.”

City, county and state agencies have all gotten involved.

Records reveal Miami-Dade Fire Rescue was called out three times this month to remove people stuck in the stalled elevator, including this past weekend.

And the state cited Imperial Club for “elevator deficiencies” late last year and again last month.

An administrator told an inspector “…they had 15 companies to come out to fix the elevator, but nobody could find replacement … parts.”

One resident called the situation “ridiculous” … another said “it was terrible.”

Kenny Froom: “If something happens to her and you have to call 911. It’s going to take forever to get up to the nine flights of stairs. She could be dead by the time they see her and take her to the hospital.”

The Miami-Dade Office of Elevator Safety tells 7 Investigates the property is pursuing a “complete overhaul” of the elevators.

In a statement, Imperial Club says:

Our residents and their families are our utmost concern. We have already contracted for the upgrade of the elevators in an amount that will exceed $400,000 and are awaiting the materials as we continue to perform regular maintenance on the existing elevators. We have hired an expert elevator consultant to ensure that the process is as smooth and as quick as possible for the benefit of our residents. We have been in regular contact with the city, county, and state agencies updating them on our efforts. Our dedicated team will continue serving our residents to provide them with the same high level of service.

Lillian Froom: “I think it’s very important that the elevator be replaced.”

Lillian is hoping by speaking up — she can help get two working elevators up-and-running — for good.


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