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Woman rescued from elevator: 'Everything just went totally pitch black'

As a broadcast journalism student at Harold Washington College, Emily Rabinovich is learning the ins and outs of chasing stories.

On Thursday night, she found herself cornered by news cameras after firefighters rescued her from a pitch-black elevator stuck for an hour in a Near North Side high-rise.

"I think I only started getting really freaked out when all these reporters were over here," Rabinovich said, laughing.

The 18-year-old student had returned to the building where her family lives in the 300 block of North Dearborn Street around 9 p.m., walked into an elevator and pressed the button for the 58th floor. Then about 10 seconds up, the building lost power.

"The elevator shook and all the lights came off," she said. "Everything just went totally pitch black."

The only button that worked in the elevator was the intercom to the building's front desk, she said. Firefighters were alerted, and Rabinovich's parents and 16-year-old sister rushed to the lobby.

As firefighters worked to reach the elevator, the family chatted and told jokes over the intercom to keep Rabinovich calm. 

The elevator shaft had no doors between the first and 10th floors, so firefighters had to ride a second elevator and reach Rabinovich from above, said Larry Langford, a spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department.

About an hour and a half later, firefighters lifted the roof off the elevator. Rabinovich put on a harness and climbed a makeshift ladder out of the elevator. Then, with firefighters guiding the way, she jumped a small gap into the second elevator.

Reporters were waiting with her relieved family.

“I was more concerned for her than she was,’’ said Socorro Rafa, Rabinovich's mother.

In fact, Rabinovich said she found the rescue "a very nice experience."

"I've never been rescued by firemen before," she said, smiling.

asege@tribune.com

@adamsege

asege@tribune.com

@adamsege

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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