Rock student saves band

Jesse Weisbeck

Eric Ostermeier and John Rigg just wanted to check their e-mail late Thursday. But a simple elevator trip to the 14th floor of the Social Sciences building turned into a three-hour ordeal.
“After five or 10 seconds, we realized we weren’t moving anywhere,” said Ostermeier, a graduate student in political science.
The two men remained stranded in the broken elevator until nearly 3 a.m., with only two Tic-Tacs for provisions.
Everyone, including custodians, had gone home for the night except for a lone geology graduate student — a soon-to-be-hero — eight stories below.
“Your first instinct is to panic, but you catch that and realize it wouldn’t help at all,” said Rigg, an airport employee.
After reading the emergency instruction panel next to the controls, Rigg began to call for help over the intercom and sounded the emergency bell, hoping someone might hear.
While Rigg attempted to communicate with someone outside, Ostermeier looked for an escape route.
“I climbed up on the handrails to look up at the hatch, but unfortunately it required a Phillps screwdriver. All I had were my keys,” he said.
Then Ostermeier tried to force the elevator doors open. With Rigg’s help, he managed to slightly pry them open.
While holding the inner doors open with a book, the two managed to crack open the outer doors enough to slip a rescue note into the hall.
This triggered a new beeping alarm.
“I took it as a good sign, because it might alert the people who needed to be alerted,” Ostermeier said.
He was right.
Eight floors down Jerry Kramer, a geology graduate student who was on his way home, heard the faint ringing.
“I think I was the only one in the building,” Kramer said. “I don’t know why Facilities Management didn’t answer their calls.”
Bill O’Neill, Facilities Management manager for the West Bank zone, is out of town and could not be reached for comment.
Kramer managed to track the stranded friends down in a floor-by-floor search, discovering the note on the 12th floor that read, “Help, we are stuck inside this middle elevator.”
“I felt so bad for them, one. And second, gosh, I use that elevator everyday and I thought, ‘What if that happened to me?'” Kramer said.
Kramer called University Police who arrived 10 minutes later.
Finally, after a repair man arrived and forced the doors apart, Ostermeier and Rigg were set free.
This is the second time this year a person has been stuck in one of the building’s elevators.
“We just called it a night after that,” Ostermeier said. “But if Jerry (Kramer) hadn’t heard us, we’d have been there all night, so he’s the true hero.”
The friends, who are members of a rock band, said they will write a song about “Jerry from geology.”