MONTREAL - Ian Neville went downstairs to collect the mail on December 22 and never returned.

His body was discovered the next day by an elevator technician at the bottom of the elevator shaft in his apartment building at 3355 Ivan Franko in Lachine.

Tenants blame the elevator, which they say has had a history of erratic behaviour. 

"I'm scared every time," said neighbour Pat Lohnes. In spite of being 94-years-of-age, she is taking the long route.

"I go up and down the stairs," said Lohnes.

Lohnes, like many, believes the elevator doors simply opened up without the elevator inside.

"The elevator was on the fourth floor, he came down and he pressed the button on the third floor, the door opened and he didn't look. He's dead!," said Lohnes.

Another neighbour suspects the same.

"Maybe he didn't look when he stepped and there was nothing to grab onto," said Gordon Wilson.

Building administrator Bobby Douzepis told CTV Montreal that the elevator was installed in 1967 and possibly needs to be replaced.

It is unclear how many Canadians die per year in elevator accidents but American statistics suggest that about 30 die annually in elevator mishaps. About half of those deaths are caused by people falling down an elevator shaft. About one third of fatalities are elevator maintenance workers.

Neville's widow remains grief-stricken by the terrible accident which claimed her husband.

"It is a terrible loss for me, especially around Christmas," said Lanore Doy. "I didn't know he was dead in the elevator at all. I didn't know until the next day."

She said that the elevator has been known to act strangely.

"It was going good for a while and then it broke down again."

She hopes nobody else suffers the same fate.

"I don't want this to happen to anybody else, that why the elevator needs to be fixed, or a brand new one put in there."

The Coroner's Office is expected to issue a report.