Sheriff's Sergeant Temporarily Paralyzed After Elevator Malfunction at Philadelphia's Criminal Justice Center

Sgt. Paul Owens will not be able to return to his post with the sheriff's office because of his injuries

A Philadelphia sheriff's sergeant severely injured when the elevator he was riding in at the city's Criminal Justice Center malfunctioned is temporarily paralyzed from the waist down, the sheriff said Monday.

Sheriff's Sgt. Paul Owens was thrown across the elevator car "like a projectile" when the lift shot up to the building's top floor and smashed into the machine room on Thursday.

The 20 year veteran suffered broken bones in his back and has been in a medically-induced coma since emergency surgery following the incident.

Speaking to NBC10 outside Hahnemann University Hospital Monday, where Owens is being treated, Sheriff Jewell Williams said it's an extremely emotional and somber time the Owens family and the office.

Owens will not be able to return to his post or the sheriff's office because of the injuries, Williams said. He will receive benefits for an officer injured in the line of duty.

Williams said Mayor Jim Kenney visited Owens in the hospital over the weekend and has called the family for updates every day.

The Stout Criminal Justice Center reopened for business on Monday. Inspectors spent Friday and the weekend checking the 17 story building's elevators. As many as 6,000 citizens, attorneys and staff pass through the building at 13th and Filbert streets each day.

Owens was riding in a staff elevator when the malfunction happened. Debris from the crash also damaged a second elevator on the building's first floor. The woman inside that car suffered minor injuries.

The staff elevator bank involved has been taken out of service indefinitely.

State investigators have not yet said what may have led to the malfunction.

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