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ST. LOUIS • A worker who was accustomed to stepping into a dark freight elevator at the old Lemp Brewery was badly injured Wednesday morning when the door opened and he stepped off into a three-story void.

Michael Gaynor, 28, of St. Louis, was rescued by St. Louis firefighters and taken to St. Louis University Hospital, where he was listed later in the day in serious condition.

"Once the elevator comes, he has to reach in to turn the light on," said Capt. Michael Pickett, spokesman for the Fire Department. "Past experience, he stepped in here a dozen or more times and the elevator floor was there, this time for some reason it wasn't there." Pickett added, "The door never should have opened up if the elevator floor wasn't there."

Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials were called to the scene. They said they cannot comment until their investigation is complete.

Officials said Gaynor works for True North Management Services and was installing communications wiring in the former brewery, at 3500 Lemp Avenue, about 9:30 a.m. when he made the 30-foot fall.

It took firefighters about 45 minutes to treat Gaynor and remove him on a backboard.

Said Pickett: "He was conscious and alert and responding to commands."

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