News & Politics

Firefighters Brought Champagne and Hors D’Oeuvres to People Trapped in a DC Elevator

They were at a Washington Post holiday party.

A screenshot from Lowery's video.

On Thursday night Timothy R. Lowery attended a Washington Post sales team holiday party at Kinship when he and six other people got stuck in an elevator on its way down to the first floor, where food was being served. About five seconds into the ride, Lowery says, the elevator “felt like it hit the bottom, and it just bounced.” The LED display started showing unusual character combinations. They were stuck.

Lowery, who is the general manager of CityCenterDC, says they used the emergency call button to alert a monitoring service they were trapped, and eventually a crew responded. He documented the whole affair on Snapchat and later turned it into this video:

While the tone of the video is fairly lighthearted, being trapped wasn’t a lot of fun, Lowery says. He and the others were in the hot car (about the “the size of a bathroom in a camper,” he says) for more than an hour, and the rescuers couldn’t keep the doors open for long enough for them to cool down. In the video, you can see a rescue technician instruct them to put a heavy tarp over their head while the rescuers cut the top off the elevator. They lowered a ladder in, and all seven people got out without injury, a DC Fire and EMS spokesperson tells Washingtonian.

In the meantime, the restaurant asked the rescuers to pass food (gougères!) and drinks (including Champagne!) to the people stuck in the elevator. “They treated us very well,” Lowery says. “It was not a great experience, but it was the best it could be.” The rescuers, he says, “were so diligent and so concerned and accommodating to us.”

A Kinship spokesperson confirms the restaurant had “an unfortunate incident last night” involving people stuck in an elevator; that lift remains out of service; a Post spokesperson confirms there was an “elevator malfunction” at Thursday’s event. Those stuck emerged to applause, Lowery says, and all inside received a very nice bottle of Champagne from Kinship to take home. Lowery says his Dom Perignon is going into what he calls his “elevator stash.” And while he didn’t know everyone beforehand, they all parted on very good terms: “It was a fun group, I’ll tell you that!” he says.


Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.