New Orleans firefighters pulled two window washers to safety Friday morning after a scaffolding cable snapped and left them dangling from the 40th floor of a Central Business District high-rise building.
“I’m glad to be alive,” said Jorge Gomez, one of the rescued workers, who has been washing windows for 17 years and was in a hurry to get back to work despite his ordeal. “It was hell. I just asked God for strength to keep me alive.”
The men, who work for Acme Window Cleaning, had been washing windows when their platform gave way. Firefighters arrived at Place St. Charles in the 200 block of St. Charles Avenue just after 9 a.m. and pulled the two men to safety through a 40th-floor window on the building’s Common Street side. Other workers had already broken out a window in an effort to pull the men inside.
“The firefighters did a fantastic job,” Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell said.
The Fire Department sent six units and 20 firefighters to the scene, which attracted a gaggle of onlookers who craned their necks to look up at the failed scaffolding.
“It was fairly dangerous, but (the men) both had their safety equipment on, a harness, and it did its job and secured them,” McConnell said. “The dangling, I’m sure, was not a calm moment for those two gentlemen.”
Both were shaken up but refused treatment, he said.
Common Street between St. Charles and Carondelet Street remained closed for several hours as officials tried to secure the scaffolding that still dangled on the side of the building.
Gomez said he had no qualms about returning to work.
“Jesus didn’t want me dead,” he said.