WARNING: Distressing content.

A freak incident in a New York apartment block has left a man dead when he was crushed by a malfunctioning lift.

CCTV footage caught the gruesome moment Samuel Waisbren tried to exit the elevator when it suddenly began moving again dragging him down.

The 30-year-old was pronounced dead at the luxury block in Kips Bay, in the heart of Manhattan.

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Samuel Waisbren was crushed to death by a malfunctioning elevator in New York.
Samuel Waisbren was crushed to death by a malfunctioning elevator in New York.

"Sam was an absolutely wonderful young man. Smart and loving and very, very sensitive. He had his whole life ahead of him," Mr Waisbren's devastated father said.

The accident happened on Thursday morning just before 8.30am as Mr Waisbren and a group of other residents were taking the elevator to the ground floor.

Fire Department of New York Deputy Chief Anthony Arpaia told reporters the victim was exiting the elevator — occupied by seven people — when the car suddenly dropped towards the basement, causing him to become stuck between the elevator car and the shaft wall on the first floor, the New York Post reported.

Five other people in the elevator were rescued.

The tower has reportedly had a number of mechanical issues with its lifts.

The newspaper obtained CCTV from the unit block's foyer that showed the horrifying episode.

Residents can be seen walking through the foyer when the lift doors open. One man with a backpack walks out before looking behind him, seemingly as the lift begins moving again before the doors have closed.

The man behind him partially steps out of the lift as it starts to travel down to the basement level.

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In an attempt to fully exit the car he grabs hold of either side of the wall beyond the elevator doors.

However, the motion of the lift is simply too fast and he is caught between the car and the shaft wall and dragged downwards.

Shocked bystanders rush from the scene except for the initial man who stands in disbelief at what he's just seen.

The victim "was sort of stuck between the first floor and basement," Mr Arpaia said, adding "some people were still left down in the car after it moved down in the basement".

"The FDNY had to work really hard to get the car moved," he said.

"The elevator took him down," a worker who witnessed the horror told the New York Daily News. "It's awful. It was disgusting."

The man's father, Dr Charles Waisbren, told the same paper his son had complained about the elevator previously.

"It's just horrible to feel that he's not going to grow up to have children, to have his own family, progress in his career," Dr Waisbren said.