Dangling window-washers rescued: Three window-washers were pulled to safety Friday after the platform they were working on at a New Orleans high-rise gave way, leaving them dangling from the building’s 49th floor on safety harnesses for about 20 minutes. Rescuers were called to the 53-story Capitol One building on St. Charles Avenue in the business district after the platform gave way shortly after 8:30 a.m.
Jorge Gomez, 58, said there was no warning before one of the cables supporting the platform from the rooftop gave way. He said he started praying. “I said to myself, dear Jesus please don’t let me die.”
Gomez said he and the other men, Willis Everidge, 55, and Kevin Hines, 46, all of New Orleans, were washing windows for Acme Window Cleaners at the building’s 49th-floor level when the cable snapped. All were thrown from the platform and began swinging above the street on the building’s east side. The building fronts the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line. “It happened so fast, in about two seconds. There was no warning. It was like jumping out of an airplane,” Everidge said.
Rescuers smashed windows to pull them into the building. The men appeared to be shaken, but not hurt. Firefighters and police closed off traffic after the rescue as the platform continued to dangle above a side street. Both Gomez and Everidge said they had been washing high-rise windows for decades. Gomez said he had no intention of giving up the trade because of the incident. He said he had worn the same safety harness for 17 years. “I feel good. I’ll be back doing my job on Monday,” he said.
|"Part of the rigging gave loose. Safety equipment on harness attached separate from the rigging caught their fall," said New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell.|
Two men were washing windows on a downtown skyscraper when their swing stage gave way. They were left dangling some 40 stories above the ground. On man was clinging on to the scaffolding the other hanging by safety equipment. "Part of the rigging gave loose. Safety equipment on harness attached separate from the rigging caught their fall," said New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell. Shards of glass and debris fell the the ground as first responders worked to rescue the men. Two windows of the building were broken to pull the men inside. After several minutes onlookers cheered as the men were brought to safety. The empty swing stage still dangling as a reminder of how dangerous this job can be. Jason Jones was on scaffolding on a nearby building. He saw the situation unfold and dialed 911. "One guy was hanging from a rope. The lifeline really saved him," said Jones. "That's what we do. But sometimes things happen you just have to be careful," said window washer Victor Banades. Streets were shut down while first responders got the scene under control. People passing by just stared in awe at the rescue and the thought of what could have happened. As for the workers who were just on their way up? "We were about to get on it today, but not anymore after this," said Banades.
|Pulled to safety by quick thinking glass contractors and fire fighters, two veteran window washers are grateful to be home in one piece.|
NEW ORLEANS - Two window washers are counting their blessings after a dramatic rescue on Friday. The duo were dangling 40 stories off the ground after a cable snapped. They had to be rescued by the New Orleans Fire Department which trains for such hair-raising calls. "We was on the 49th floor when the cable just popped," said window washer," Jorge Gomez. Dangling over the street, veteran window washers Jorge Gomez and Willie Everidge had no idea how to get down. For about 9 minutes, they and the spectators below, hoped another cable wouldn't snap. "I was trying to figure out how to get down. Could I climb down?" said Everidge. "It came out as person trapped, but it also came out as someone dangling on the side of a building," said NOFD Capt. Marco Iverson.
The fire department's Squad 2 got the call on Elysian Fields Avenue, turned their truck around and headed to the scene. Capt. Iverson was on the ground. "Right when we got to the building, we could actually look up and see the scaffolding hanging on one side, or the rig hanging on one side and then another gentleman on one line holding on to the building by himself," said Iverson who is also familiar with the layout of the building which he regularly inspects. The NOFD says it has two heavy rescue units which train specifically for rescues like this one at the Place St. Charles building in the Central Business District. "Place St. Charles and One Shell Square are the two tallest buildings in the City. You need a little over 600 feet of rope to go from the very top of the roof to the ground floor," said NOFD Capt. John Delao.
Fire officials say on every shift 16 people are specially trained as part of the heavy rescue unit. They're ready to jump into action, bringing along the right equipment like a pry tool which helped bust out a window in about two minutes to reach a window washer on Friday. Pulled to safety by quick thinking glass contractors and fire fighters, two veteran window washers are grateful to be home in one piece. "When God gave me the strength to hold onto [the building] and I see the glass started breaking. I said, 'Thank you, Jesus. I'm safe,'" said Gomez. NOFD says six units and 20 firefighters responded to the rescue call. Fire officials says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be investigating why the cable snapped and that fines could follow.