Investigators are trying to figure out how a 45-year-old man in a mobility scooter fell three floors down an elevator shaft in downtown Toronto on Thursday.

Emergency officials were called to an apartment building at Dundas Street West and University Avenue around 10:30 a.m., where they found a man lying at the bottom of the elevator shaft. Scraps of the shattered scooter were strewn over his body.

The man fell from the third floor to the basement – a drop of about 15 metres, according to Toronto Fire Platoon Chief Kevin Aucoin.

“To be frank, I’m surprised he didn’t get killed or more hurt than what he is,” Aucoin said.

Residents Kristin Miller and her daughter, Halle Borland, were on the fifth floor of the building when they heard shouting.

“We heard this horrible grinding this morning and I was like, ’What was that? And I went into the hallway and I could hear yelling, screaming,” Miller, who called 911, told CTV Toronto.

The two blocked both elevators so the cabs couldn’t crush the man at the bottom of the shaft.

“It was really hard because my daughter and I are holding the elevator doors open so the alarms are going off, he’s screaming, his girlfriend is screaming,” Miller said.

The man suffered a compound fracture of one of his legs and was rushed to hospital. He was conscious the entire time, Aucoin said.

The Toronto Community Housing Corporation, which owns the building, blamed the incident on “vandalism” that happened on the same day. TCHC did not clarify the nature of the vandalism.

“Based on damage to the elevator door which occurred today, we believe the cause of the incident was vandalism. Both of the building’s elevator were newly installed in September 2018, and both were in good working order at the time of the incident and had passed all safety inspections,” said TCHC spokesperson Bruce Malloch.

Firefighters used a harness to pull the man to safety.

“Our crews were able to go to the basement of the shaft, the bottom of the shaft, and along with EMS they packaged him and we were able to remove him from that shaft into the underground garage,” Aucoin said.

Miller said she was relieved to learn that her neighbour will survive.

“It’s the best of a very, very bad situation. We were really afraid for a minute,” she said.

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority will investigate the incident. Toronto Fire is also carrying out its own investigation. TCHC said it is cooperating.