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8-year-old Ky. boy found dead in church elevator
Updated: 2009-06-16 09:56

STURGIS, Ky. – The body of an 8-year-old boy was found with his head pinned in a church elevator as his family was cleaning up after his grandmother's wedding reception, authorities said Monday.

No foul play is suspected in the death Saturday of Zachary Waddell at First Christian Church in Sturgis, Kentucky State Police said in a statement. The church's pastor, the Rev. Nate Harper, found the boy's body in the doorway at the lower level of the shaft connecting the church's first and second floors, authorities said.

Union County Coroner Stephen Shouse said the boy died as a result of compression asphyxia, meaning he couldn't breathe after the elevator came down on him. He said the elevator was purchased in 1963 and is similar to a freight elevator. The Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press reported that Shouse is a distant cousin of the boy's mother.

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State Police said the boy was pronounced dead at the church. State Police gave few details and did not return telephone messages to The Associated Press about the circumstances.

The boy was found with his head pinned between the walls of the elevator and the shaft and his body was outside the elevator car, Shouse said.

Harper told the newspaper that the discovery was the "worst thing" he's ever experienced.

"It was really hard for us, but more than anything else our hearts go out to that family," he told the newspaper. He also said he did not know a lot about the elevator, "but to our knowledge, we believe it was up to standards."

"There's a family that needs prayer," Harper told the AP on Monday afternoon. "They've suffered a great tragedy."