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 large 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 was thrown from her post and badly burned in the accident, though she survived, while 14 others did not.[3]

When rescuers got to her they decided to lower her via the elevator, unaware that the cables had been weakened to breaking point. Once the elevator doors closed, the cables snapped and 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 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.[3]


  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. ^ a b 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. 
  4. ^ Pall, Gloria (2001-07). "The day a B-25 Bomber crashed into the Empire State Building". Van Nuys Aviation & Business Journal.  [dead link]
  5. ^ "Up and Then Down: The lives of elevators." by Nick Paumgarten. The New Yorker April 21, 2008
  6. ^ Mishoe, Grant (2008). "Timeline". 

External links[edit]