The FDNY cut through a window on the 68th floor of One World Trade to rescue two workers trapped on a scaffold dangling from the building Wednesday afternoon.
The window washers were stuck after a cable on the motorized scaffold developed slack on one side as it was being raised back to the roof just before 1 p.m. Contrary to earlier reports, officials say the cable did NOT snap.
Emergency workers secured the scaffolding, which was hanging at a roughly 65-degree angle at approximately the 68th floor.
Rescue workers had to break and remove three layers of glass to reach the workers, because the windows do not open. Crews were also lowering a second scaffold from the roof, but it was raised back up after it became clear that the window could be breached. A third option would have involved a firefighter rappelling down the side of the building.
The workers were identified as 33-year-old Juan Lopez, of the Bronx, and 41-year-old Juan Lizama, of New Jersey. Both are employees of Upgrade Service Window Washing.
“I spoke to both of them when they came in,” Upgrade Services president John McDermott said. “They were in good spirits, they were calm, they are professional window cleaners.”
The workers were said to be in good condition and were taken to Bellevue Hospital, where they were evaluated and released. Eyewitness News meteorologist Lee Goldberg said the weather conditions where the workers were stuck were tolerable, but both suffered mild hypothermia due to the wind and cold at that elevation.
“Do me a favor when you see him, tell him the mayor stopped by to shake his hand and I wanted to say “Hi,” alright,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Juan Lizama’s son Kevin sat on the stoop of his West New York home, telling the mayor he wasn’t sure when his dad was coming home from the hospital.
Many of their neighbors and friends watch the dramatic rescue of two window washers play out on live TV.
“It’s not easy almost seeing your father die and here he is, God is great,” de Blasio said.
German Herrera said thank God his buddy from El Salvador and his partner Juan Lopez weren’t hurt, but boy what a scare!
The president of Upgrade Services believes it was equipment failure and praised the workers for being prepared.
Union representatives say their training paid off.
“They do have a dangerous job. It’s fortunate that this did not turn into a real tragedy here, but I also think that because they are union members, because they work for a union company, they get the proper safety training. They have the proper safety equipment, follow the safety protocols and I think that’s a big reason why they are alive today,” said Shirley Aldebol, union representative.
“It was equipment failure,” McDermott said. “Thank God that the men are trained properly, they took all safety precautions and they had all of their safety equipment in place, which meant that they were secured to the scaffold the entire time.