Boyfriend Arrested After UNC Student Falls
Posted January 27, 1997
CHAPEL HILL — A University of North Carolina freshman has been released on bond after being charged with assaulting another student who fell five stories down an elevator shaft.
Chapel Hill police arrested 19-year-old Thomas Henry Black III on Monday, a day after 18-year-old Evelyn Smith was seriously injured in the fall at Granville Towers East, a privately owned dormitory for UNC students. Smith, a freshman from Wilmington, was listed in good condition Tuesday at UNC Hospitals. She is being treated for a compound fracture of her left leg, internal injuries, and serious cuts. She reportedly landed on her feet on the top of the elevator car, which had been stopped at the second floor.
Authorities said Black and Smith had been drinking before Black pushed Smith against the elevator doors on the eighth floor of Granville East. Somehow, the elevator doors opened, and Smith fell five floors, landing on top of the elevator car, a police report said.
Black was charged with assault inflicting serious injury, giving a malt beverage to an underage person and underage possession of alcohol in connection with Sunday's incident.
He was released Monday after posting a $500 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on the charges on March 3.
Black's father, Thomas Black II, told WRAL TV5's Amanda Lambthat he thinks his son is innocent.
Police say Smith and Black, a business major from Lexington, N.C., were drinking alcohol Sunday before the 1:30 a.m. incident. The elevator is in Granville Towers East dormitory where Smith lives. Black lives in Granville Towers South.
Jane Cousins, a spokesperson for the Chapel Hill Police Department, says it appears the elevator door opened when Smith was pushed against it.
The elevator had passed a N.C. Department of Labor inspection on Nov. 20, 1996. It also had passed inspection in May 1995 and May 1996. The state labor department is responsible for inspecting elevators in North Carolina. It is still unclear how or why the doors opened after Smith was pushed against them.
So I was lazy today and didn't feel like writing a full blog. So I stole 20 year old newspaper article and decided to put a little color around it. In 1997, Evelyn (Smith is not her real name) took a one way trip 5 stories down an elevator shaft after drinking with her boyfriend. I spoke with Evelyn a few years after the accident. At that time she was a law student at UNC. She spent 49 days in traction while doctors worked hard to save her mangled left leg. Following a series of operations, Evelyn was placed in what she described as a girdle cast. The cast wrapped around her hips and went to the toe of her injured leg. The cast was changed weekly. Over the course of nine months, Evelyn went from the girdle cast to a variety of full leg casts, and finally a series of walking casts.
Today Evelyn lives in North Carolina. She is happily married and the proud mother of four. Although she is a lawyer, she does currently practice law.