TALLAHASSEE -- A bill promoting residential elevator safety, prompted by the tragic death of a Bradenton 12-year-old, was easily approved by a Florida House subcommittee Tuesday afternoon.
The bill, which requires all newly installed residential elevators to have a sensor similar to a garage door, which would stop the elevator from working if it detects something in the shaft, was passed unanimously and without public comment or debate in the House Business and Professions Subcommittee.
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, and Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, are sponsoring the House and Senate versions of the bill, respectively, which will be named after Maxwell Eric Grablin, who died in January 2015.
Max was looking for his pet hamster in the elevator shaft, which he did by stopping the elevator between floors so he could climb in and get the hamster. The elevator wouldn't operate while the doors were open. But somehow, the door slammed shut, which a child fatality report by the Department of Children and Families attributed to wind. When Patrick Grablin heard his son yelling from inside the shaft, he instinctively hit the button to open the door, but it also made the elevator descend on top of Max, suffocating him.
Max was Dr. Patrick Grablin and Karin Grablin's only child, and the tragedy caused a lot of suffering to the couple.
"Max was my boy, he was the love of my life," Patrick Grablin said. "That day I was just numb. I was sick."
Steube told the subcommittee that the law would be an easy fix to prevent a tragic situation.
"The sensor doesn't cost much at all," Steube said.
The bill was amended from applying to all residential elevators to no longer being retroactive, so it would only be required in residential elevators installed after the proposed law takes effect on July 1.
Galvano's Senate version goes in front of its first committee Wednesday morning.
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter@KateIrby