Local News

Boyfriend Arrested After UNC Student Falls in...

Posted January 27, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— A UNC freshman has been released on bond after being charged with assaulting another student who fell five stories down an elevator shaft.

Chapel Hill police arrested 19-year-old Thomas Henry Suddarth III on Monday, a day after 20-year-old Evelyn Leilani Bankov, 20, was seriously injured in the fall at Granville Towers East, a privately owned dormitory for UNC students. Bankov, a freshman from Wilmington, was listed in good condition Tuesday at UNC Hospitals.

Authorities said Suddarth and Bankov had been drinking before Suddarth pushed Bankov against the elevator doors on the eighth floor of Granville East. Somehow, the elevator doors opened, and Bankov fell five floors, landing on top of the elevator car, a police report said.

Suddarth was charged with assault inflicting serious injury, giving a malt beverage to an underage person and underage possession of alcohol in connection with Sunday's incident.

He was released Monday after posting a $500 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on the charges on March 3.

Suddarth's father, Thomas Suddarth II, told WRAL TV5'sAmanda Lambthat he thinks his son is innocent.

Police say Bankov and Suddarth, a business major from Lexington, N.C., were drinking alcohol Sunday before the 1:30 a.m. incident. The elevator is in Granville Towers East dormitory where Bankov lives. Suddarth lives in Granville Towers South.

Jane Cousins, a spokesperson for the Chapel Hill Police Department, says it appears the elevator door opened when Bankov was pushed against it.

The elevator had passed a N.C. Department of Labor inspection on Nov. 20, 1996. It also had passed inspection in May 1995 and May 1996. The state labor department is responsible for inspecting elevators in North Carolina. It is still unclear how or why the doors opened after Bankov was pushed against them.

Another elevator-related injury near the UNC campus was reported Monday. A delivery man was treated for minor back injuries after reporting another elevator accident at a university office building north of the main campus.

Robert Eugene Haire, 31, of Cary, a Federal Express worker, was treated and released from UNC Hospitals Monday afternoon.

Haire told campus police that he took an elevator to the third floor of the Bolin Creek Center about 12:30 p.m.

Haire said the elevator fell between five and 10 feet when it reached the third floor, but before the doors opened, said campus police Capt. Jeff McCracken.

After the fall, the doors opened and Haire made his deliveries. He then took the elevator back to the first floor and asked a worker to call campus police after he began to feel a pain in his back.

The elevator had passed a state inspection just last week, school officials said.