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Tuesday, February 21, 2006 - Page updated at 09:19 AM

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Man falls to death at Lincoln Square

Seattle Times staff reporter

A shopper fell to his death in an elevator shaft Monday night at the new Lincoln Square shopping center across from Bellevue Square in downtown Bellevue.

The 25-year-old Kirkland man was with several others in the north-tower elevator just after 8 p.m. when it got stuck between the shopping center's first floor and the top level of the five-level parking garage below, Bellevue police spokesman Greg Grannis said.

The others — initial police reports said there were four — managed to get out safely, but the Kirkland man slipped several stories down the shaft.

The victim was identified by the King County Medical Examiner's Office as Jeremy Johnson. An autopsy was scheduled for today.

Lincoln Square spokeswoman Anne Marie Peacock said that when the elevator became stuck, the people inside pressed a call button, which alerted the elevator operators. The operators then contacted Lincoln Square security.

"We were talking to the guys in there before it happened," Peacock said.

What happened next remains under investigation, she said, but it appears the people inside decided to pry open the doors themselves and get out.

"We're very sorry for the family," she said. "It's very unfortunate that this happened. This is a sad tragedy."

The other people on the elevator at the time emerged from the shopping center Monday night, some crying, but declined comment.

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Lincoln Square owner Kemper Freeman Jr., who was in California on Monday night, said he didn't have all the details but that it doesn't make sense for someone to get out of the elevator cab if there's a glitch — shoppers should stay inside and call security for help.

He said his best thoughts were with the man's family.

The first phase of Lincoln Square — offices, shops, a Westin hotel and 148 condominiums in a two-tower complex — opened Nov. 1.

When it is completed, the south tower will be Bellevue's tallest, the first to reach 450 feet since that height limit was put in place about a decade ago.

Lincoln Square also will include some of the region's most expensive condos, with many priced in the millions. Construction just began on them. They'll feature floor-to-ceiling glass walls and interiors more luxurious than many of the Eastside's waterfront estates.

The shopping center was more than a decade in the making.

Freeman, whose company owns Bellevue Square, took over the project in 2003 after the previous owners abandoned the site because of a real-estate downturn.

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or nperry@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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