MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami-Dade firefighter is in critical but stable condition after frightening fall down an elevator shaft early Tuesday morning.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue was called to Bal Harbour Shops at 9700 Collins Avenue to rescue a person stuck in an elevator.

In their efforts to free the person, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said 18-year veteran David Gonzalez suffered a long fall.

Gonzalez was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center where he underwent surgery.

Lt. David Gonzalez (Source: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue)

“Firefighter David Gonzalez is finally out of surgery. He is being cared for at the trauma facility’s intensive care unit,” said Ericka Benitez with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. “We know he is in serious but stable condition, and we do know this is going to be a long road to recovery.”

Several Bal Harbour police officers, including Police Chief Raleigh Flowers, went to the hospital after hearing the news.

“This fire department, Station 76, is the fire department that usually responds to calls in our area, so most of our guys, all of our guys are familiar with the officers, the firefighters who work in this particular station. So we wanted to come out and show our support for the injured firefighter and his family,” said Flowers.

“We’re concerned because he fell down an elevator shaft. I’m sure his injuries are probably going to take a while for him to recover,” he added.

Flowers said at this point he hasn’t been told the specifics of what happened.

“I do know the fire department responded to a call for a male stuck inside of an elevator. From that point forward I really don’t have any information,” he said. “It’s one of the stores inside the Bal Harbour shops, one of the anchor stores inside the Bal Harbour Shops. It may be Neiman Marcus, but I’m not for sure.”

Flowers said they will look into the incident as part of a joint investigation.

“There will be some sort of subsequent investigation to determine what occurred. It’s going to be a joint effort with state agencies, the fire department and our police department,” said.

Fire Chief Alan Cominsky told CBS4 the call for help came in about 7:30 in the morning before the mall was even open.

“We responded to assist a patron that was stuck in an elevator. It appears the firefighter fell down the shaft several floors,” Cominsky said.

That Gonzalez’s truck was outside the trauma center where more than 20 family members shpwed up, hanging on to one another for comfort. Firefighters and others are there as well, to do what they can.

“I want to take a moment now to ask you all to have a moment of silence,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Gimenez took a moment during his State of the County address, thinking of the injured rescuer.

“One of our firefighters fell down an elevator shaft today and was injured and is in the hospital. Please take a second and pray for his recovery,” said Gimenez.

“It hits home for us and that’s why we’re here to show support,” Flowers said.

Flowers said this tragedy is personal for his entire force.

Ted Scouten

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