More horrific details are emerging regarding the tragic death of Jerry Fuchs early Sunday morning, the result of a fall down an elevator shaft of a building at 338 Berry Street with numerous code and safety violations on record with the DoB, including “Failure to Maintain Elevator.” The Daily News has outed 24-year-old photographer Stephen Alessi as the other man in the elevator with Fuchs. The two men didn’t know each other, but were headed to the same party when the elevator stalled. After 20 minutes, a party organizer and a person who appeared to work in the building helped Alessi and Fuchs pry the doors open. Alessi went first:
“It didn’t seem like a big jump,” he told the NYDN. “As soon as I jumped off I turned around and saw how big that gap was.” Fuchs leapt next, and even landed safely on the floor, before the hood of his sweatshirt jerked him back into the elevator shaft. Alessi hasn’t slept since.
Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri told the paper that the investigation so far has shown “that there is nothing wrong with the elevator”–where the vehicle stalling between floors comes into that formulation exactly, he doesn’t say. There may have been someone tasked with manning the elevator, but he or she wasn’t present when Fuchs showed up. “Jerry had no idea that there was supposed to be an operator,” a friend said. An awful accident.
“Today was a really bad day, Jerry, and I could have used one of those big sweaty hugs you gave after a show, when you were genuinely excited and surprised to see me,” said DFA’s Jonathan Galkin in a statement. “You were truly one of a kind, and whether you knew it or not, people wanted to be in the same room as you, or near the same room as you, because maybe just maybe, some of that radiant joy and in-the-moment spirit you exuded would rub off on them. You didn’t take it all with you, because there are a lot of people today who are going to feel mighty responsible to carry and spread that joy with them for the rest of the time they have here. And who knows now how long that might be. You were a really good drummer, some might say the best we had, but you were a greater friend. I love you and miss you, Jerry.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 10, 2009