Saturday, September 02, 2000

Parachutist stuck 29 floors high

Jumper hauled in from Carew Tower, hauled off to jail

By Michael D. Clark and Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Parachutist stuck outside a downtown hotel was pulled in the window behind him after a safety rope was lowered.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        A stunt turned dangerous Friday night when, witnesses said, a parachutist leaped from the top of the Carew Tower, snagged his chute and was trapped outside the 29th floor of the Omni Netherland Plaza Hotel.

        The jumper may have been one of two parachutists who jumped from the 49th-floor observation deck of the Carew Tower around 8:50 p.m.

        Witnesses downtown said the first jumper landed safely after leaping and floating down and west from Cincinnati's tallest building.

        The second jumper, however, caught his chute on a ledge of the Omni Netherland, a shorter building just west of the Carew Tower.

        “He did two flips, and then he snagged on the corner of the hotel, and then he swung around and smacked into the building,” said Meg Jahnes, a downtown worker who was going to her car on the roof of the Tower Place Mall parking garage when she happened to look up and see the two parachutists.

        Ms. Jahnes said the first jumper disappeared after floating west over Race and perhaps Elm streets.

        But the second jumper got snagged and was left standing on the outside ledge of a closed hotel room window — still attached to his chute, which remained caught on the corner of the building.

        “He just grabbed that window and hung on,” she said.

        Her friend Heather Hamilton also witnessed the second, unsuccessful jump and said the man “smacked into the building. ... I thought it was the scariest thing I've ever seen.”

        It took until about 9:20 p.m. for safety personnel to determine which hotel room the trapped jumper was outside of. They then entered the room and pulled him to safety.

        The second jumper was arrested, but police but did not immediately identify him. The first jumper was not located.

        The second jumper sported a blond-dyed mohawk, and wore a navy T-shirt and khaki cargo shorts. As police led him from the Omni Netherland at Fifth and Race streets toward a police car, his hands were handcuffed behind him. He still wore the parachute harness.

        Asked why he jumped, the man said only, “It's what I do.”

        Cincinnati Police Sgt. Paul Broxterman said the jumper was not injured and did not immediately make a statement to police.

        Police were uncertain what to charge him with, possibly inducing panic.

        “We discourage this kind of thing, because we don't want copycats,” Sgt. Broxterman said.

        In recent years, parachuting from tall buildings has grown in popularity. The “extreme sport” is called BASE (Building, Antennae, Span or Earth cliff) jumping, similar to skydiving except that the parachutist jumps from a fixed object.

        According to the Web site, experienced parachutists consider the sport “extremely dangerous” and somewhat experimental.

        In August 1995, a Sycamore Township man known as “Sky-punk” because of his affinity for leaping off Cincinnati buildings, jumped from the Carew Tower and was arrested after landing safely.

        Timothy Werling II, then 24, was charged with inducing panic and disorderly conduct. He eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was ordered to pay a $50 fine, plus $52 in court costs.


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