Two workers stuck 10 stories above the ground after their scaffold malfunctioned were saved in a daring rescue by FDNY firefighters who rappelled down the side of an Upper West Side building, heart-stopping video showed.
Terrified onlookers watched after the two workers, who neighbors said were doing facade work on the building at the corner of West 78th Street and Broadway, were left clinging to the building high above the ground around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. It was not clear what caused the scaffold to malfunction, but it was left dangling on the side of the building, nearly perpendicular to the ground far below. One of the workers was still on the scaffold, the other on a window ledge, holding on for dear life.
Firefighters repelled down from the top of the building to the workers, a man and a woman, one of whom was able to be brought inside through a window. Firefighter Andew Dinkel made his way to the one hanging onto the ledge of another window, wrapped himself around the worker to help bring him inside as well.
"The gentleman on the ledge, he was hanging on pretty tight, very nervous obviously," said Dinkel. "The scaffolding he was on was no longer there. He didn't say much."
As the second worker was moved inside, the crowd that gathered below applauded and cheered for the firefighters' efforts to save their lives. Both workers walked on their own into ambulances, and aside from being very shaken up, were expected to be fine. No firefighters were injured as well.
Tenants in the building said that the facade work has been going on for months, and some said that some of the work has not been done properly, leaving her unsurprised that an accident could occur.
"We have been maintaining (the building), but they have not been doing it safely," said one tenant who said she's lived in the building since 1973. "Our apartment was filled with dust ... they haven't been vacuuming, they haven't been maintaining safety standards, so I'm not surprised that something horrific has happened. I'm just glad that the guy is OK."
Firefighter Dinkel said afterward that all the training they undergo prepares them for moments such as this, even if they are rare events.
"It's something we do all the time, as far as drilling and training is concerned. Really just goes back into that mode of training," said Dinkel.
"I was delighted to see how wonderful the firefighters were in saving this guy's life. It was a New York moment," another resident said.