NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two construction workers found themselves hanging on for dear life after their scaffolding gave way in Midtown Friday, but fortunately, the story had a happy ending.
As CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes reported, it was a horrifying sight some 12 stories high, as the two construction workers in safety harnesses found themselves dangling above 57th Street and Lexington Avenue around 8:30 a.m.
One of the men was stuck at the top of the scaffolding closer to the 13th floor, while the other was closer to the 12th floor, Grymes reported.
“Oh my God, it was so scary,” said witness Amira Feldman.
Feldman and Lauren Johnson were inside the East 57th Street building. They saw the man trapped closest to the 12th floor.
The scaffold was nearly vertical right outside Johnson’s office, and she could barely bring herself to look out the window, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
“I saw his foot, and I couldn’t even handle it,” Johnson said.
The accident prompted a massive response from first responders and onlookers, watching the dramatic scene unfold.
“I was just walking by and I looked up and I see this thing dangling and I realized these guys were just hanging,” witness Joe Dapuzzo said. “One of them was hanging by his harness, the other one was standing on the top of the scaffold.”
“Pretty intense, scary at times,” said witness Adam Pizarro.
Such scenes are not uncommon in New York City.
In April, a construction worker at the Dream Hotel, at 210 W. 55th St. near Broadway, fell to his death from scaffolding. And in January at 92nd Street and Park Avenue, firefighters rescued two workers who were on a scaffold when it collapsed.
In the Friday morning incident, the city Department of Buildings said a motor on the scaffolding malfunctioned. The fall of the motor was only stopped by an air conditioning unit, the department said.
Detective Robert Mirfield and Officer Sean Dequatro with the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit first rescued the man near the 12th floor, pulling him into the building.
But they said rescuing the worker stuck at the top of the scaffolding was a bit more difficult.
“He had the death grip,” Mirfield said.
“He didn’t want to go down, he didn’t want to come in,” Dequatro said.
After about 20 minutes, that worker was also pulled to safety. Video showed him stepping off the scaffolding, gripping a rope, and reaching for the first responders inside who pulled him through the window.
The two Emergency Services Unit officers said they had a lot going through their minds during the rescue – including using their training to contain the situation and avoid making it worse. They said they were glad that in this case, no one was injured.
The Department of Buildings issued a partial stop work order for the scaffolding. CBS 2 has reached out to the building owner for comment on the accident, but has not heard back.
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