TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times - breaking news and weather.
Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014
Crime & Courts

Man found dead in Tampa elevator shaft came for Bike Week

By
Published:   |   Updated: March 16, 2013 at 09:24 PM
TAMPA -

Officials with the company that maintains elevators at Tampa International Airport are spending today inspecting equipment after a 31-year-old Pennsylvania man was found dead on top of an elevator car Friday morning.

The company, Schindler Elevator Corp., “is out today, inspecting all the elevator doors at the airport to make sure they are functioning properly,” said airport spokeswoman Janet Zink. “We are working through the weekend on all aspects of the investigation.”

The elevator crew’s efforts came a day after Chad Wolfe, an auto body mechanic, was found on top of an elevator in the Armstrong Blue section of the garage. Zink said Wolfe arrived at 12:10 a.m. Friday on Delta Flight 2233 out of Atlanta. Shortly after arriving, he entered an elevator on the third floor of the main terminal and appeared to have taken it up to the seventh floor of the garage, Zink said.

Wolfe’s luggage and cell phone were found outside the elevator on the seventh floor, Zink said.

At 3 a.m., maintenance workers noticed an elevator had stopped working. About seven hours later, technicians investigating the problem discovered Wolfe's body, Zink said.

Officials from Schindler Elevator Corp. did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Saturday.

Garland Wolfe had no idea his son Chad’s trip to Florida went horribly wrong until a phone call at 4 a.m. Friday.

“His girlfriend or her mother called, panicky,” said Wolfe, who runs an auto body shop in West Newton, Pa., just outside Pittsburgh. “They were saying they couldn’t find Chad.”

Awakened by the call, Wolfe said he got up, made coffee and began worrying.

Chad Wolfe came to Tampa International Airport shortly after midnight Friday with his girlfriend, Jessica Price, said Garland Wolfe. Chad Wolfe, a motorcycle enthusiast, just had bought a Harley-Davidson Sportster and the couple was heading to Daytona Beach for Bike Week. They had lived together for eight years, said Garland Wolfe.

Unable to sleep, Garland Wolfe said, he went over to Wolfe’s Auto Body/CWolfe Auto Sales, where he and his son worked, and waited as Price searched the airport for his son.

At 1 p.m., Garland Wolfe said, he received another call: His son’s body was found on top of an elevator car at the airport.

Garland Wolfe said investigators told him they were looking into whether his son tried to pry open the elevator’s door. Zink said investigators from the airport, as well as inspectors from Schindler, were considering a range of possibilities and there would be no definitive answer on what happened until next week.

Garland Wolfe said he and his wife, Margaret, would have rushed down to Florida earlier to try and help find their son, who loved fishing and sports as well as motorcycles, but another family event prevented them from traveling.

The couple’s daughter, Courtney, was at a local hospital, giving birth to a son, named Noah.

“I don’t know what I am going to do now,” said Garland Wolfe. “My son lives 50 feet from our shop. He would get there at 6 a.m., open it up and make coffee. He’s not going to be there anymore.”


haltman@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7629

Subscribe to The Tampa Tribune

Comments