NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Statue of Liberty climber Therese “Patricia” Okoumou scaled more than 20 feet up the statue’s pedestal Wednesday.
That’s no easy feat, but she’s no stranger to climbing. CBS2’s Clark Fouraker heard exclusively from her trainer, who said he was surprised to hear about her stunt.
Instagram videos show Okoumou using a unique rope and bar system, practicing movements that her trainer said would help with climbing.
“She was very, very passionate about the portion of the class that’s about climbing. So when it came time to brachiate and do monkey bar master type stuff, which is like going across monkey bars like kids do, she listened with open ears,” trainer Luis Cornier said.
He said he had no idea it was Okoumou, who was also a personal trainer, who scaled the statue.
“She was actually very easy to teach. She already had the athleticism and the physique for it. I only helped her out with like technique,” said Cornier.
Okoumou learned to use the acrobatics system to personally train clients at Asphalt Green, a gym in Battery Park City. Employees told Fouraker she no longer works there.
The super of her apartment building and her neighbors described her as normal and hard-working.
“I just can’t believe it. I was just watching TV, and it kind of looks like her. ‘Is that really her? No, can’t be her.’ So I am just shocked like everyone else,” super Tito Rivera said.
They said they knew she had strong political opinions but never imposed them on neighbors.
“I had no idea, to be honest with you, and I fixed her stuff in her apartment, and nothing. That’s what took me by surprise, you know what I mean?” said neighbor Patrick McConnell.
“I never would’ve thought it would have been this close to home. So I was like wow. I was like, that’s crazy, you know what I mean?” neighbor Kenneth Thomas said.
Rivera said Okoumou had been a tenant for more than 10 years and lived alone.
She has been arrested before at demonstrations. Last August, she was taken into custody for allegedly not dispersing during a protest outside the New York Department of Labor.