Sam Waisbren was just 30 years old and had his whole life ahead of him.
It was a horrific accident that stunned the nation: A young man on his way to work in New York City was crushed to death when the elevator he was riding in plummeted to the ground below.
Sam Waisbren was just 30 years old and had his whole life ahead of him. Now, two months after his untimely death, his parents, Laura and Charles, spoke to Inside Edition about living without him.
"Total disbelief. Frankly, still in disbelief," Charles said in the emotional interview. "I talked to him the night before he died, told him I loved him, that I was proud of him."
Sam was in the elevator of a building on East 25th Street in September. As the doors opened, he went to step into the lobby. His body was half in, half out of the elevator. But suddenly, the lift dropped like a stone to the basement, with the doors still open. Sam struggled to get out, and the elevator crushed him.
The family said they have received hundreds of letters and cards expressing sympathy for their loss. And the outpouring of support has inspired them to set up a program to honor Sam's memory. It combines his love of basketball with his love of reading, aimed at helping fourth graders in his native Milwaukee.
"He's in my heart all day. I feel he is still here," Laura said.
Tyler Hartfield also took the elevator the morning Sam died. He can be seen on surveillance video making it out of the lift just in the nick of time.
"As I was stepping out, I felt the elevator from from underneath my foot. I heard other people in the elevator start screaming. I turned around and saw another man try to get out and get crushed," he said.
Tenants say they had complained often about the elevators, and those who were on the lift that fateful morning are planning to sue the building's management company. When approached by Inside Edition about the incident, the management had no comment.
While Laura and Charles believe their son's death was preventable, Charles said he is "trying to focus on what good can come out of this."