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Tot survives 30-foot fall down Joliet hotel elevator shaft

A 2-year-old boy is expected to survive after falling 30 feet down an elevator shaft at a Joliet hotel.

Police and paramedics were called at 4:06 p.m. Sunday to the Plaza Hotel, 26 W. Clinton St., after the desk clerk reportedly heard crying and noticed the elevator wasn’t moving. The car was stopped between the first and second floors.

Officers arrived and looked down the elevator shaft to see the toddler had fallen through a gap between the elevator and the wall of the shaft straight down into the basement and struck his head.

The unconscious boy was taken to Silver Cross Hospital in critical condition and later transferred to Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. He was listed in serious condition Monday afternoon.

The boy was at the hotel with his 22-year-old mother and 5-year-old sister. Records show the family lives a few miles from the hotel. The mother reportedly told police the boy had been with her in a third-floor room when she “may have dozed off for five minutes and her son slipped out of the room.”

Police Chief Fred Hayes said video footage shows the boy walked to the elevator from the third-floor room but his mother came after him a few minutes later to return him to the room.

“A few minutes after that, the boy leaves the room by himself for a second time, wanders to the elevator, presses the button to call it, gets inside and starts pushing buttons before the doors close,” Hayes said.

Inside the elevator is an emergency switch that stops the car immediately and opens the doors to the compartment, but not the doors to the hallway.

“It is within easy reach of a child,” Hayes noted.

Police believe the boy flipped that switch and got into the gap between the car and the shaft.

“He had already dropped his baby bottle and then (apparently) he fell,” Hayes said.

The elevator passed an inspection in October, according to reports. Hotel staff told police they have a “no child” policy.

“Investigators interviewed a man who purchased two rooms on the third floor and said he allowed the children to stay in one of them while (the mother) would be joining him in the other during the football game,” Hayes said.

The 5-year-old girl was placed in her grandparents’ custody after police notified the Department of Children and Family Services.

The incident is still under investigation.

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