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052715-blm-loc-13elevator

McLean County Administrator Bill Wasson, left, and Coroner Kathy Davis talk to the media Tuesday about the death of a county worker at the Law and Justice Center. 

BLOOMINGTON — McLean County officials still don't know why maintenance worker John Hoeniges was at the bottom of a Law and Justice Center elevator shaft Tuesday, but said the elevator has been inspected and no malfunctions were found.

However, they did acknowledge on Wednesday that a visitor had approached county workers early Tuesday after an item fell down the shaft. County Administrator Bill Wasson said that information was relayed to facilities management.

"While it's possible Mr. Hoeniges may have heard about that item and may have tried to retrieve it, at this point, that's speculation and an investigation to get a better understanding is underway," Wasson said.

McLean County Coroner Kathy Davis said an autopsy completed Wednesday showed Hoeniges, 56, died of blunt trauma and compressional asphyxia. She said all indications are that the death was an accident.

Hoeniges' body was found about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, shortly after two people reported they were stuck on one of the north elevators. The building has six elevators.

Wasson said Hoeniges' accident caused that elevator to malfunction, stopping the car between two floors.

Representatives from Occupational Safety and Health Administration division of the U.S. Department of Labor and representatives from the State Fire Marshal's office remained at the scene Wednesday.

"Details of an investigation cannot be disclosed until the case is closed," said Leili Doerr, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Labor. "In the meantime, our inspectors are working diligently to assess what occurred." 

Hoeniges was a seven-year McLean County employee and worked as a maintenance mechanic.

Follow Mary Ann Ford on Twitter: @pg_ford

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