Betty Lou Oliver

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Betty Lou Gower Oliver (July 16, 1925 – November 24, 1999)[1][2] was an elevator attendant at the Empire State Building who survived two major accidents on the same day.

B-25 Empire State Building incident[edit]

Oliver was working on the 80th story of the building on July 28, 1945. On that day, due to thick fog a B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building. The plane struck the 79th floor of the building. Oliver's car was on the 80th floor. She was thrown from her car and received severe burns. "I had just started down from the 80th floor... there was a noise... above me... then a great block of machinery came...through the top of my car".[3]

After treating her injuries, first aid workers put her in an elevator to send her down to the main floor, but the cables of that elevator had been weakened by the crash, and broke. As a result, Oliver plummeted 75 stories to the basement.[4]

Oliver survived but again had to be rescued and was later treated at the hospital for serious injuries. The thousand feet (300 m) of elevator cable had fallen to the bottom of the shaft, creating a softer landing surface. The rapid compression of the air also likely helped slow the elevator's fall.[5] This descent still stands as the Guinness World Record for the longest survived elevator fall ever recorded.[6] Five months later, Oliver returned with an elevator inspector, who complimented her "guts" in riding the elevators to the full height of the building on that visit.[7]


  1. ^ "Find A Grave: Betty Lou Gower Oliver". Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Persons born 16 July 1925 in the Social Security Death Master File". Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Oliver, Betty Lou (1961). "The Long Drop". Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World, Feb. 22, 1961. 
  4. ^ Pall, Gloria (July 2001). "The day a B-25 Bomber crashed into the Empire State Building" (PDF). Van Nuys Aviation & Business Journal. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 19, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Up and Then Down: The lives of elevators." by Nick Paumgarten. The New Yorker April 21, 2008
  6. ^ Mishoe, Grant (2008). "Timeline". 
  7. ^ Roberts, William (March 1996). "July 28, 1945 – Plane Hits Building – Woman Survives 75-Story Fall (ESB in the News)". Elevator World (Mobile, Alabama). pp. 71–78. ISSN 0013-6158. OCLC 2446674. 

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