The window cleaner who fell from 47th story of a skyscraper and lived

Source: BBC

By Harry Low

Only half of the people who fall three storeys survive. From 10 storeys almost no-one does. This is the tale of a window cleaner who survived a 47-floor fall from the roof of a New York skyscraper.

“I loved to see the windows really clean,” Alcides Moreno says.

“I liked the water and the soap, how you press the squeegee.

“We would start at the top and clean all the way to the bottom, I loved it.”

Moreno and his younger brother Edgar set out to clean the windows of the 47-floor luxury Solow Tower building in Manhattan’s Upper East side on the morning of 7 December 2007.

They took the lift up to the top and walked out on to the roof, the temperature hovering around freezing.

Solow Tower Apartments in May 2016Image copyrightGOOGLE

But moments later, disaster struck. When they climbed on to the 16ft-wide (4.9m) washing platform the cables holding it in place “slipped from their attachment point”, according to the United States Department of Labor accident report.

“On the left side the cable came off first. That was my brother’s part. My brother fell off, all the way down,” Alcides Moreno says.

Edgar plummeted 472ft (144m), landing in a narrow alley. By the time he reached the ground it’s estimated he would have been travelling at more than 120mph. Alcides Moreno’s side of the scaffold broke loose soon after, and he too started accelerating towards the ground.

At street level, firefighters and paramedics found a harrowing scene. Edgar Moreno had landed on a wooden fence, his body was severed and he couldn’t be helped.

Alcides Moreno was found crouching among a pile of twisted metal, clutching the scaffold controls. Still breathing, he is said to have tried, unsuccessfully, to stand up.

Firefighters recall how they began to move him in small increments “like a fragile egg”, knowing that one wrong move could have killed him.

The men’s safety harnesses and lifelines, together with some soap and a bucket of hot water – the steam still rising from it – were discovered on the roof next to the scaffold rig.

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