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Gov. Jim Justice made national headlines Friday after acknowledging he was briefly trapped in the governor’s mansion elevator on Thursday afternoon.

The Governor’s Office issued a statement indicating the elevator malfunctioned at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, trapping the governor for about a half-hour while mansion staff, State Police and General Services Division personnel worked to open the inoperative elevator doors.

The Governor’s Office also confirmed that First Lady Cathy Justice was recently briefly trapped in the elevator in a separate incident.

“I’ve asked maintenance and safety personnel to thoroughly inspect the elevator to determine how to prevent this from happening again, and to conduct a full review of the safety and soundness of the entire structure,” the governor said in a statement.

Installation of the mansion elevator was completed in early 2020.

The elevator, which is 42 inches wide and 54 inches deep, replaced a much smaller elevator that was 32 inches wide and 37½ inches deep. The previous elevator had a 750-pound weight limit.

Installation of the new elevator, which has a 1,000-pound weight limit and is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, required approval of the state Capitol Building Commission, since it required substantial physical changes to each floor of the mansion.

Most significantly, that included moving a wall in the mansion kitchen on the first floor, reducing a set of double swinging doors from the kitchen to the state dining room to a single swinging door.

The CBC approved the installation of the new elevator in January 2019.

— Staff reports

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