The gruesome discovery Monday of a man's body in the elevator shaft of a historic San Francisco high-rise has investigators and the property manager scratching their heads trying to figure out how the man got there.
The victim was identified early this morning as Daniel J. Kliman, 38, of Oakland. Kliman is believed to have fallen down the shaft at the historic Sharon Building, at 55 New Montgomery St., last Tuesday evening, according to Brad Bernheim, the building manager.
Bernheim said the elevator was not working last week and had been secured so that no one could enter it. Workers showed up Monday to repair the elevator and discovered the body.
Last Tuesday, a surveillance camera recorded Kliman waiting for the elevator in the lobby. It wasn't clear, however, how he ended up in the elevator shaft or whether he fell from that floor or higher, Bernheim said.
He said the victim was a student at the Pacific Arabic Resources School on the seventh floor of the building. He said there were no classes last week.
"I don't know why he was there. That's what we're investigating, how he got down there," Bernheim said. "Yeah, it's strange. You don't normally find bodies in the elevator shafts."
Police said Kliman accidentally fell after summoning the elevator.
Investigators got the call from the workers who had found the body at the bottom of the shaft while inspecting the elevator. The investigation is focusing on what exactly went wrong with the elevator, how secure it was and whether it is possible for a person to unhook the door-locking mechanism when the elevator isn't there and fall into the shaft.
Bernheim insisted all proper guidelines had been followed.
"The elevator was not running, but everything was secure," Bernheim said. He said he waited until Monday to call for repairs because of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Bernheim said the elevators are up-to-date models that had passed all state inspections. In fact, he said, state inspectors had just looked them over two or three weeks ago and found nothing mechanically wrong.
Kliman was known as a man who kept to himself.
The body wasn't discovered for a week, Bernheim said, most likely because Thursday was a holiday and nobody noticed the smell.
"We have the garbage in the basement, and we didn't have pickup, so that probably hid any odors," he said.