NEW ORLEANS – Three window-washers were pulled to safety Friday after the platform they were working on at a New Orleans high-rise gave way, leaving them dangling from the building's 49th floor on safety harnesses for about 20 minutes.
Rescuers were called to the 53-story Capitol One building on St. Charles Avenue in the business district after the platform gave way shortly after 8:30 a.m.
Jorge Gomez, 58, said there was no warning before one of the cables supporting the platform from the rooftop gave way.
He said he started praying. "I said to myself, dear Jesus please don't let me die."
Gomez said he and the other men, Willis Everidge, 55, and Kevin Hines, 46, all of New Orleans, were washing windows for Acme Window Cleaners at the building's 49th-floor level when the cable snapped. All were thrown from the platform and began swinging above the street on the building's east side. The building fronts the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line.
"It happened so fast, in about two seconds. There was no warning. It was like jumping out of an airplane," Everidge said.
Rescuers smashed windows to pull them into the building. The men appeared to be shaken, but not hurt. Firefighters and police closed off traffic after the rescue as the platform continued to dangle above a side street.
Both Gomez and Everidge said they had been washing high-rise windows for decades.
Gomez said he had no intention of giving up the trade because of the incident. He said he had worn the same safety harness for 17 years.
"I feel good. I'll be back doing my job on Monday," he said.