Chad Wolfe: Man found dead in elevator shaft at Tampa International Airport
Matthew Borek, Jacqueline Ingles, WFTS
9:59 AM, Mar 17, 2013
TAMPA - The body of a man was found in an elevator shaft at Tampa International Airport on Friday, according to airport police. As of 7:00 p.m., officials said investigators could find no signs of foul play.
Maintenance workers discovered the victim around 10:00 a.m.
The man has been identified as Chad Wolfe, 31, from West Newton, Pennsylvania.
"We are distraught," said Bob Young, Chad's uncle, via phone from Pennsylvania.
Chad's father, Garland, told ABC Action News his son flew out of Pittsburgh Thursday night along with his girlfriend, Jessica. The couple had a layover in Georgia and arrived in Tampa shortly before midnight on Delta flight 2233.
Investigators have determined that shortly after midnight on Friday, Wolfe entered an elevator on the third floor of the main terminal that stopped on the seventh floor of the Short Term Parking Garage.
According to Garland, his son Chad planned to meet up with friends in Central Florida. The group was going to rent a car and drive from Tampa to Daytona for Bike Week.
Garland says airport police told him Chad pried open the elevator doors and fell to his death. However, Garland said 'he didn't believe that' because his son only weighed 150 pounds and didn't have the strength. He added that when he spoke to his son's girlfriend, she also provided conflicting information.
The girlfriend allegedly told Garland Chad had had a drink on the plane and taken a Xanax to help him fly.
Apparently, Chad's girlfriend told him to wait on the main concourse while she retrieved her checked luggage from baggage claim. When she returned, Chad was gone. After searching for him, according to Garland, she alerted airport police of his disappearance.
"No, not at all," replied Young when asked if he thought Chad's girlfriend could have played a role in his death. The couple had been together for more than 10 years.
Around 3 a.m. airport maintenance workers reported that an elevator had stopped functioning. It was an elevator adjacent to the one Chad took.
Later that morning, when elevator technicians were working to restore the elevator to service, they discovered Wolfe's body.
What doesn't add up is that Chad's carry-on bag was found on the seventh floor of the airport which serves as a short-term parking lot. Rent a car offices are on the ground floor of the airport adjacent to baggage claim.
"How did he fall down the elevator shaft without his luggage?" Young questioned.
Chad's family does not believe he fell to his death. Instead, they believe the airport was negligent.
"We are thinking along those lines," said Young.
The family does not believe Chad hurt himself. According to Young, Chad had a lot of friends, was well-liked, worked hard and enjoyed jet skiing. He was also going to be an uncle for the second time Saturday.
The medical examiner has taken possession of Wolfe's body and is working to determine a cause of death.
Wolfe worked at a body shop in Pennsylvania alongside his father.
ABC Action News did contact Chad's girlfriend for comment but did not immediately hear back.