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18-year-old rescued after more than an hour in elevator

(MCT) — As a journalism student at Harold Washington College, Emily Rabinovich is learning the ins and outs of interviewing and telling stories.

But Thursday night she found herself on the other end of the cameras, after firefighters brought her to safety from a pitch-black elevator stuck in a Near North Side high rise.

The 18-year-old student had returned at about 9 p.m. to her building on the 300 block of North Dearborn Street, walked into an elevator, and pressed the button for the 58th floor, where she lives.

Then, about ten seconds into her ride, the building suddenly lost power.

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

The buttons all had stopped working, except for the intercom connection with the building's front desk, she said.

After Rabinovich contacted the front desk, firefighters were alerted, and Rabinovich's parents and 16-year-old sister rushed to the building lobby.

As the family waited for firefighters to reach her elevator, the family members chatted and told jokes over the elevator intercom, trying to keep each other calm.

Firefighters, meanwhile, were working their way towards Rabinovich.  The elevator shaft had no doors between the first and tenth 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 after the ordeal started, firefighters lifted the roof off the elevator with Rabinovich inside.

But Rabinovich wasn't safe just yet. After putting on a harness, she climbed a makeshift ladder. And with firefighters guiding the way, she jumped a small gap into the second elevator, where other firefighters were waiting.

The jump was a bit unnerving, she admitted later.  But perhaps the biggest shock was still to come, when she saw the television cameras waiting for her in the building lobby.

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

In addition to the press corps, a relieved family was waiting for her.

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

As she recalled the incident in an interview by the open elevator, Rabinovich thanked the firefighters for bringing her out.  Certain parts of the experience were not altogether unpleasant, she said.

"I've never been rescued by firemen before," she said, smiling. "but it was a very nice experience."

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