Many questions remain unanswered in the fatal Atlantic City hotel elevator accident that killed dancer Julie Knapp on March 16. One of those questions may be whether the dancer knew how to work the lift’s controls.
The Flamingo Atlantic City hotel’s staff, which has been under investigation by New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs for several weeks now, has so far declined to make its investigation public, however, and the public still doesn’t know if any malfeasance or safety lapses occurred in that lift — or how.
The Atlantic City Press, in an investigative series published Thursday, has also written about elevator safety. In one section, reporter Megan Villanueva reports that some shows here have been performing in lifts with keys the actors could open with their phones.
But the Flamingo is the only venue for the tour, called “Forced Exposure: Safe Spaces,” and the dancer killed on that lift was Nick Lazzarini, a well-known choreographer who has worked with national celebrities including Celine Dion, Idina Menzel and Will Ferrell. Lazzarini, 45, was the only performer the guest featured in the upcoming tour.
Five other members of his troupe, and six more tourists, were in the elevator at the time. Knapp, 38, was employed by a live-music agency doing acrobatics for holiday shows when she died; as a tour guide, she told employees, they would entertain guests and become part of the crowd. She was from New Mexico, where she also worked in advertising.
Still, the back of her dress was pulled up to her neck when the lift hit a pillar, according to a preliminary report released by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
Knapp’s death sparked a social media movement started by friends, called “Julie’s Jog,” urging people to run in mid-March and post videos on Facebook and Instagram, showing how many miles they covered.
“Rest in power, dear Julie, your spirit will always live on,” one of the posts stated.
Kevin Gillan, the Flamingo’s general manager, said Thursday in a statement to the press that the lift that Lazzarini was riding broke “multiple times” in recent months.
“In addition to suspending performances in the lift, and in the interest of ensuring public safety, the entire cast was pulled from the tour this week,” he said.
Knapp was not billed in the promotional materials for the tour.
The show’s producers did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
But Thursday’s coverage by the Atlantic City Press, which also reported that a crew working at the Flamingo that night may have misconstrued Knapp’s commands for the lift, has rekindled interest in Knapp’s death. As a result, the Flamingo’s next show — which features Lazzarini — has been called off. The Flamingo said it would reschedule the show’s remaining run on May 16, but it offered no more details.