The Port Authority has stopped all window washing operations at One World Trade Center after yesterday's scary incident where two window washers were left dangling from the 69th floor after a cable snapped. The Port Authority is investigating why the one of four cables broke, leading to a heart-stopping sight.
Juan Lizama, 41, and Juan Lopez, 33, were rescued by firefighters after spending more than 90 minutes on the nearly vertical scaffolding gondola. "Fire officials said that the rig was lowered and raised by four cables and that a single cable was capable of supporting the entire rig," NY Times reports. "Those cables were not moving in unison and, outside the 69th floor, slack began to build up in the cables securing the west side of the rig. As the slack grew, the basket began to list, one side sloping down to the 68th floor at an almost vertical angle."
A metal foreman with experience on scaffold says window washers typically wear harnesses (Lizama and Lopez were belted in) and told the Post, "They’re not going to go anywhere, but you don’t want to be hanging by your harness. You can only hang for so long. Within an hour all the blood rushes out. It’s definitely not good... They are sitting at a 90-degree angle, and all their blood is rushing to their feet. People pass out." The FDNY provided more details on the rescue:
The incident was first reported at 12:42 p.m., and FDNY members devised a two-pronged attack with the help of the NYPD and PAPD - cut the glass and remove the men through the window, as well as lower another rigger from the roof and transfer the men from the disabled scaffold to the functioning one.
Members from Rescue 1, Squad 18, Engine 10, Engine 6, Engine 7, Engine 18, Engine 4, Ladder 10, Ladder 1, Ladder 15, Ladder 25 and Ladder 6 performed both operations simultaneously, before determining the window cutting would work fastest.
Overseen by Battalion Chief Joseph Jardin on the 68th floor, Rescue 1 firefighters cut an area of glass using a saw, safety wrap and suction cups to keep it from shattering. They sliced through two layers of glass, cutting a 4x8-foot piece in the interior and 2x8-foot in the exterior. It was just enough space to pull in the two men.
Lopez and Lizama are reportedly doing well. Lopez's girlfriend told WCBS 2, “I seen them pull him in and I freaked and my mother-in-law called me before that. I was crying. I was freaking out. We just had two babies—twins—so yeah, it was a little crazy.”