Company Fined in Garage Door Death

© 2009 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Spring 2009
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Page 62

Garage Doors and Openers in the Media

Clippings are brief summaries of recent news articles in the consumer media. These stories offer a peek at the latest trends for the door business.

Company Fined in Garage Door Death

Source: Karena Walter, “Company fined $70,000 in toddler’s garage door death,” St. Catharines (Ontario) Standard, Feb. 20, 2009.

Tragedies can teach powerful lessons. This Canadian news story reports that a concrete company was fined $70,000 for failing to brace a garage door that fell and killed a 3-year-old boy from St. Catharines, Ontario.

On May 23, 2007, four concrete workers arrived at the home to work on the garage floor. While the mother was talking to the jobsite supervisor, her toddler wandered toward the garage.

With the door open, a worker pulled the garage door’s emergency release cord to disconnect the door from the opener. The 254-pound garage door came down and struck the toddler on the head and neck. Airlifted to a hospital, he did not survive.

The court noted that no bracing was placed on the garage door and no fencing or barricades were around the project. The boy’s family started a memorial fund to increase garage door safety awareness.

Editor’s Note: Door professionals know that the release handle should never be pulled when the door is up. Yet, this tragic story raises some helpful questions. Are you training your technicians to protect a jobsite from children?

Blackberry: A GDO Remote?

Source: Press release, “Unify4Life Announces the Garage|Shadow Garage Door Remote for BlackBerry Smartphones,”, Jan. 12, 2009.

At the January Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Unify4Life introduced the Garage|Shadow, an application that proposes to turn a BlackBerry phone into a GDO remote control. The product also boasts an “automatic open” feature that senses when you have returned home and opens the garage door automatically.

Why not just use your usual remote? The company says that people don’t always have a GDO remote control with them, such as when they’re on a motorcycle or when they’re going for a walk. Unify4Life says the application will be available in April 2009 for under $40.

Editor’s Note: Unify4Life gained a lot of buzz with this product, but it raises several questions. Does it require a special receiver to be attached to the opener? What does that cost? If a receiver must be attached to the opener, wouldn’t that invalidate the opener’s warranty? After hooking up the product, will your usual remote control or keypad still work? Does the product comply with UL 325 requirements?

“ Click to Steal” Burglars Arrested

Source: Dave Roberts, “Garage Door Burglars Arrested,” KMTV Action 3 News (Omaha, Neb.), Feb. 20, 2009, and Leia Baez, “Two arrested are suspects in six burglaries,” Omaha World-Herald, Feb. 20, 2009.

“They break a car window, steal a garage door opener, and click to steal,” reports this TV news story.

We’ve reported many home burglaries that used GDO remotes. In this case, the bold burglars entered the house while the family of seven slept.

Hearing a noise early one morning, the mother thought it was her husband getting a drink of water. When she got up to check, she found the garage door open and a stranger standing in the garage. The burglar had snatched a computer screen, a cell phone, and her purse.

“He was in our living room. Twenty more steps and you are in all of our bedrooms,” she said. Luckily, police caught the two burglars stealing more garage door openers later that morning. The thieves are suspects in nine burglaries and “may be part of a much bigger criminal organization.”

New Tactic: Trolling Airport Parking Lots

Source: John Sasaki, “Thieves Use Car Garage Door Opener To Rob North Bay Family,” KTVU-TV (San Francisco, Calif.), Feb. 20, 2009.

In this burglary, the “brazen thieves” trolled the Park N’ Fly Lot near the Oakland (Calif.) Airport. Spotting a promising Subaru, they popped the side window and grabbed two items: the GDO remote control and the vehicle registration papers.

While the family was skiing in Washington state, the burglars drove to the address on the registration papers, opened the garage door, and enjoyed a thieving heyday. They stole a plasma TV, a laptop, three cameras, a camcorder, some cash, two videogame consoles, and a 2008 Mercedes CLK.

The victims have resolved to never leave a GDO remote in a car. Police suggest taking a black marker and crossing off the address on the registration and insurance papers.

Editor’s Note: These “click to steal” burglaries are getting more prevalent. We’ve seen similar stories in several other states and as far away as New Zealand. As we’ve said before, garage door dealers can be heroes by warning your residential customers of the danger and/or selling mini keychain remotes and open garage door monitors.