TORONTO — A woman who was stuck on the top part of a construction crane in downtown Toronto for hours was rescued Wednesday after being strapped to a rappelling firefighter and lowered to the ground.
The woman had been perched on a gently swaying large pulley device for at least four hours and was clinging to a steel cable when a rescuer reached her.
Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said his crew had never seen an incident like this before.
“It’s an outstanding success,” Pegg said of the operation. “We train for this, although we’ve never seen one like this before.”
He added, “She was brought down safely, she didn’t appear to be in any distress. This was a very technical, very complex rescue.”
Pegg said crews were called to the scene at a construction site at about 4 a.m. A rescue worker began climbing up the crane around 6 a.m. and rappelled down to the woman on the pulley device around 8 a.m., Pegg said.
The firefighter then carefully strapped himself to the woman and the pair were slowly lowered to the ground about half an hour later.
Streets in the area were blocked off and bystanders packed nearby sidewalks to watch the dramatic operation unfold. Cheers erupted from the crowd as the firefighter successfully landed on the ground with the woman.
The woman, believed to be in her 20s, was then handcuffed by police and handed over to paramedics.
Toronto police said the woman faces a mischief charge.
Fire crews said there was no immediate indication of why the woman climbed onto the crane in the middle of the night.
They believe she climbed up the crane, crawled out to the end of it, and slid down a cable to the large pulley device.
“She has to tell me how she did it because she has to be our new training officer for high-angle (rescue) because it’s impressive,” said Rob Wonfor, who rappelled down the towering machinery with her.
“It was hard enough for me to go up with ropes and harnesses and she free-climbed that.”
The 22-year veteran of the fire service said he didn’t ask her for an explanation during the rescue because they needed to stay focused. But he noted the woman didn’t seem frightened and was “very calm.”
“She was a brave girl, she helped me when I got there,” he said.