Mother, daughter rescued after elevator drops at 163rd Street Mall

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Crews came to the rescue of a mother and her 9-year-old daughter after the elevator they were riding in fell one story at the 163rd Street Mall in North Miami Beach, Friday evening.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to the shopping center, located at 1205 N.E. 163rd St.

According to witnesses, the elevator abruptly fell from the third floor to the second, injuring the older victim and trapping both of them inside.

Onlooker Wilyne Saintvil spotted the victims and began recording video on her smartphone. “Everybody just heard a loud sound, so everybody dropped what they were doing, ’cause it sounded almost like a gunshot,” she said.

“I was out buying shoes with my mom, and then out of nowhere, I just heard a big boom,” said shopper Kimberly Martinez.

The dramatic cellphone video showed the girl from the elevator’s glass windows sitting next to her mother, who was lying on the floor. Shoppers spotted one shoe falling from the elevator while holiday shoppers tried to pry the doors open.

Crews arrived at the scene shortly after and used the jaws of life to open the elevator doors. After several tense minutes, rescuers were able to carry both women to safety.

7News cameras captured rescuers carrying one of the victims off the elevator. “They had to drag the lady out. She was hurt,” said Martinez.

Velez was transported to Jackson North Medical Center. Her daughter was not injured.

Relatives identified the mother as Karen Velez and the girl as Luna. Family members told 7News Velez was celebrating her 29th birthday while shopping with her daughter.


Luna, who was wearing a pink Supergirl long-sleeve shirt, was later captured standing by her mother’s side just before paramedics transported her.

Velez’s mother, Yoleida Pacheco, rushed to the hospital as soon as she heard about the incident. “She was stuck inside. They are taking her to the hospital,” she said through a translator. “She can’t feel her back and feels lots of pain.”

“We were just all in complete shock. It could have been anyone of us getting inside that elevator,” said Saintvil. “That could have been happening to any of us.”

Kristen Moore, a spokesperson for Brixmor Property Group, which manages the mall, released a statement that reads, “The safety and security of our customers is a top priority, and we are currently work with the elevator company to ensure the elevator is operating properly. The elevator is on a regular maintenance schedule and had just been serviced in the past week.”

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