13News Now investigates: Residents complained about elevators before fatal fire

13News Now Investigative Reporter Laura Geller looked through building violations and resident complains at the senior living facility.

An in-depth look at Chesapeake Crossing resident complaints revealed issues that landed property management in violation of city rules before a fire that killed three people.

At issue in some of the inspection reports we obtained from the City of Chesapeake are problems with the elevators at Chesapeake Crossing. Most recently, we found two notices of violation and the timing of the upcoming re-inspection, might frustrate some people. 

You regularly hear "in the event of an emergency, do not take the elevators..." But in a complex like Chesapeake Crossing, where many of the residents use walkers or wheelchairs, that's not always realistic.

When flames broke out early Saturday morning, the elevator in the buildings labeled 1937 was not an option. 13News Now has learned it was not working at the time.

In a complaint from May, a caller told the city "residents who are handicap are unable to go up and down the stairs. Elevator has been broken at least 5-6 months."

The city then inspected on June 13 and issued notices of violation. But, property managers were given until July 22 to repair the elevators. That date for re-inspection would be exactly one week after flames ravaged the property.

Loved ones like Giselle Custodio, whose mother lived in the apartments, expressed frustration with the situation.

“If the building would have been prepared differently, it wouldn't have been as drastic as it is right now,” she said.

Technically, though, Chesapeake Crossing met the property maintenance code when it comes to the elevators. The buildings are connected by walkways, making the entire complex a "structure." Since at least one elevator was operable, no matter how far residents had to go to get to it, it makes the structure in its entirety in compliance.

A city spokesperson said Tuesday, management was in the process of obtaining permits for repairs to both elevators in the violations we found.

Service Request Summary Report by 13News Now on Scribd

Notice of Violation 1 by 13News Now on Scribd

Notice of Violation 2 by 13News Now on Scribd

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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