ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. - Around 10:30 Wednesday morning, 45-year old Mark Allen Johnson and a co-worker from SWS Environmental Services were at the base of an elevator shaft vacuuming up liquid from below the elevator car while it was stopped in place one floor above them.
"The elevator is a hydraulic elevator and the individuals were working to remove some water and oil, hydraulic oil, from the elevator pit. The elevator car came down and caught the individual that was half way between the elevator and outside," said St. Pete Beach Fire Department Chief Ernie Hand.
The workers were on site at the Jacaranda Beach Villas, part of the Tradewinds Island Resort complex. The other worker was not injured.
Cristen Rensel with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office explained, "The elevator had been locked with a key by maintenance of the Tradewinds. They had been working for about forty minutes when the elevator came down."
The PCSO is investigating Johnson's death. One area that investigators are likely to focus on is the stop switch, located in the pit of the elevator shaft. If activated, it prevents accidental movement of the elevator car.
SWS Environmental Services is based in Panama City Beach and confirmed today that Mark Johnson was a full-time employee.
"We are currently conducting an internal investigation and cooperating with local authorities," said Cindy Daniels with SWS Environmental Services.
Officials from OSHA were on the scene at the Tradewinds Wednesday afternoon. Their investigation into the accidental death could take several months to complete.