Window Washer in San Francisco Survives 11-story Fall; Is Hospitalized After Slamming Into Moving Car and Sustaining Life-Threatening Injuries

Instagram user radiopadraic posted this photo showing a car that a worker landed on after falling off a building near Montgomery and California streets in San Francisco on on Friday, November 21, 2014. (Photo By radiopadraic/Instagram)
Instagram user radiopadraic posted this photo showing a car that a worker landed on after falling off a building near Montgomery and California streets in San Francisco on on Friday, November 21, 2014. (Photo By radiopadraic/Instagram)

The first inkling that office workers scurrying along Montgomery Street had that something was wrong came when they looked up to see a blue blur falling from the sky. Some thought it was debris — but then it got closer, and the crowd began to scream and scatter. It was a man, plummeting 11 stories toward them.

With a thump and a crash of shattering glass, the middle-aged window washer smashed into a moving car just after 10 a.m. Friday morning. He lay wincing and miraculously alive for a moment on the crumpled roof of a green Toyota Camry, witnesses said, and then rolled off onto the pavement.

That’s when retired Army Col. Sam Hartwell and 19 others — including the driver of the smashed car — sprang into action. In moments, they had called 911, set up traffic blocks and banded around the man, some bending low to urge him to hold on, hoping he could survive until paramedics arrived.

Within two minutes of being called, firefighters were on the scene near the intersection of California Street, and the victim was soon on his way to San Francisco General Hospital — alive, though with life-threatening injuries.

It turned out that the window washer, whose name was not released, was with another washer and had slipped from the roof while they prepared their cleaning platform for use, police said.

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SOURCE: Kevin Fagan
San Francisco Chronicle

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