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NewsVault: High-Rise Rescue

"Chicago firefighters rescuing an injured window repair man who fell several stories onto an eight-foot ledge. Crews had to rappel down a rain soaked, slippery section of the building to pull the man to safety. He was hospitalized with a broken leg." (1996)


From Joel Kaplan in the Tribune on June 18, 1996:

"Chicago firefighters engaged in a dramatic rescue Monday of a window repairer who suffered a broken leg when he fell 75 feet from the top floor of a downtown high-rise to a steel grating during a heavy rain.

"Firefighter Art Noonan was lowered from the roof of the 203 N. LaSalle St. building to the 8-foot wide metal grate outside the building's 23rd floor and gingerly placed Tom O'Keefe, 36, into the rescue basket.

"'This is up there among the most difficult we've ever done," Noonan said. "It was made more difficult because of the rain and the lightning and the thunder.'

"The rescue occurred in full view of dozens of employees from the Coopers & Lybrand accounting firm, which occupies the top six floors of the building."


"The incident happened shortly before 9 a.m. when O'Keefe, a longtime employee of Service Glass, 4161 S. Morgan St., attempted to repair and caulk some windows that had been leaking. The windows face the Clark Street side of the building.

"According to witnesses, the repairer started shimmying up a rope to the roof as it began to rain. He slipped and slid down the side of the windows until the steel grate broke his fall."


"The rescue of window washers from downtown high-rises is not unusual, said Fire Commissioner Raymond Orozco, who witnessed this one from the 27th floor.

"He said the city performs about a half-dozen rescues a year, usually when scaffolding gets stuck or breaks."


See also: CaughtOnTapeTV


Comments welcome.


Posted on January 10, 2012

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