Betty Lou Oliver: The Lucky “Elevator Girl”

elevator girl

On July 28, 1945, fog enveloped New York City. A B-25 Bomber attempts to land at LaGuardia Field but became lost in the fog. Instead, he rammed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building, killing the three in the plane and eleven more in the building. Miraculously, the “elevator girl”, Betty Lou Oliver survived the plummet of the elevator from the 80th floor.

Betty Lou Oliver worked as an elevator operator in the Empire State Building. Not long before this day she had submitted her notice of leaving. In fact, July 28th was meant to be her final day working there. On this day, tragedy struck. She said that the elevator stopped, shuttered, and started to freefall. Awake for the whole plummet, she attempted to stop the car and had to hang on to the sides to avoid floating. 1000ft later, it stopped.

Amazingly Betty Lou Oliver survived. With burns, broken bones, and possible broken back the firefighters cut her out of the smashed elevator. Five months later this “elevator girl” returned to the Empire State Building. She had blocked the trauma of the fall and did not remember it. Still, she entered an elevator and took a ride all the way up and down. She wanted to conquer her fear of the elevator.

Betty Lou went on to have children and live to the age of 74. She set the Guinness World Record for longest survived elevator fall. I do not recommend trying to beat this record.

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