Elevator number 14 on the second floor of Christus St. Joseph Hospital's George W. Strake building was closed for four days. As Doctor Hitoshi Nikaidoh stepped onto the elevator, the doors closed, pinning his shoulders. “He tried to pull back and he couldn’t,” Physician’s Assistant Karin Steinau told HPD officers. “The doors wouldn’t open.” She wasn’t able to find the Door Open button before the elevator started moving upward. “When you get on an elevator, if it closes on you, it’s supposed to open back up,” she told officers. “There was no hesitation. The doors shut and it went.”

Nikaidoh struggled, trying to shrug out of the elevator, or possibly pull himself inside, she said, but the elevator kept moving upward. The ceiling sliced off most of his head. His left ear, lower lip, teeth and jaw were still attached to his body, which fell to the bottom of the elevator shaft, as the elevator continued moving upward. Steinau frantically pushed every button; the elevator stopped four feet below the fifth floor. She was trapped inside the elevator with his head for more than an hour.