Taylor man, 21, identified as person who fell to death in Detroit hide-and-seek game

George Hunter
The Detroit News
Jonathan Mazgai

Detroit — County officials have identified the man who fell to his death this weekend while reportedly playing hide-and-seek in an abandoned food storage facility.

Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office spokesman Keith Owens identified the victim as 21-year-old Jonathan Mazgai of Taylor. The official cause of death has not yet been determined, he said.

Police say Mazgai likely fell to his death in an elevator shaft in the former Grand Trunk Warehouse & Cold Storage facility on St. Aubin and East Ferry.

Investigators say a group of friends was playing on the building's ninth floor sometime between midnight and 1:30 a.m. Saturday. When the victim ran away to hide, he likely fell through the elevator shaft.

The former Grand Trunk Warehouse & Cold Storage facility stands on St. Aubin and East Ferry in Detroit.

His friends looked for him in vain before leaving the building, police said. When they returned the next morning to resume the search, they found his body amid piles of debris inside an elevator shaft on the first floor, according to police. The friends then dialed 911.

The site of the fatal accident is the former Grand Trunk Warehouse & Cold Storage facility, built in the late 1920s. The building, which stored food for Beatrice Foods Co., was next to the Grand Trunk Western Railroad tracks.

The facility closed in 2002, and is a favorite haunt for trespassers. Photos of the building are posted on several websites dedicated to "urban explorers."

Detroit police Cmdr. Charles Mahone said a city crew went to the old warehouse Monday to ensure it was properly secure.

"If you go to the location, you'll see it’s boarded up and clearly has on it 'no trespassing'" Mahone said. "The night this happened, these young people got in the building and were playing around; unfortunately the young man lost his life." 

Mahone said the city had inspected the building in December to ensure it was properly boarded-up.

"The process is, they'll secure the building, and people break into it," Mahone said. "In talking to the workers who were there at the scene, there's no way anyone should be inside that building, doing what I hear being called 'urban exploring,' because it's so unsafe.

"They're putting their lives in jeopardy going into these old abandoned buildings — and then, if they get in a jam, then first responders have to come and put their own lives in jeopardy trying to rescue them," Mahone said.

"That's why people need to stay out of these places," Mahone said. "You can never predict what's going to happen inside them."

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN