HARRISBURG – State Sen. John Yudichak said it was “a sad, but triumphant day,” as Kristopher’s Law — a law that will modernize elevator safety in Pennsylvania — was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.
At a ceremony in Harrisburg, Wolf signed the measure named in memory of Corrections Officer Kristopher D. Moules of Larksville, who was killed in the line of duty in the summer of 2016, as he tussled with an inmate at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.
Kristopher and the inmate fell to their deaths as the elevator doors broke away — sending both men 59 feet down an open elevator shaft.
“Kristopher was just 10 months into his new corrections officer career with a full life ahead of him and an unlimited future,” Yudichak said. “Kristopher, as noted, was a standout athlete. But if you talked to his union brothers from LIUNA Local 1310, they will tell you Kristopher was a standout person — brave, smart, loyal, and dedicated to his profession.”
Wolf signed Senate Bill 934 as Kristopher’s mother Kitty looked on. Also in attendance were fellow corrections officers Eric Messersmith and Dwayne McDavitt, Luzerne County Correctional Facility Deputy Warden Sam Hyder, and members of the International Union of Elevator Constructors.
Prior to the ceremony, Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, and Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of the act and the inspiration behind it.
“Any assault within a prison warrants investigation into possible weaknesses in procedures and precautions,” Baker said. “But there was something more here. The circumstances showed a flaw in the law pertaining to elevator safety. With a surge of community advocacy, we passed remedial legislation.”
Baker said the ceremony was “cloaked in sadness, because of the young man of character and courage who we lost.”
“But there is a measure of consolation that steps have been taken to prevent a similar tragedy in the future,” Baker noted.
What it does
• Creates an Elevator Safety Board that will conduct a monthly review of issues related to elevator construction, maintenance and inspection.
• The body will also have regulatory authority, including the ability to grant exceptions and variances to existing codes, and membership will include those with expertise in the safe operation of elevators.
Luzerne County manger David Pedri and Prison Warden Mark Rockovich noted that the actions of Moules on that fateful day were nothing short of heroic. In honor of Kristopher, the county placed a plaque at the prison that reads: “Kristopher David Moules — a hero remembered never dies.”
At the July 2017 ceremony, Kitty Moules smiled when she talked about her late son, noting he constantly gave hugs and kisses to everyone.
“He will always be truly missed,” she said. “He made his mother and father very proud.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.