By VERENA DOBNIKNEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Two maintenance workers were left dangling from a collapsed scaffold near the top of a skyscraper for more than an hour on Wednesday before rescuers cut open windows to pull them inside to safety. The men were stuck in wind gusts outside the 45th floor of the 600-foot-tall Hearst building in midtown Manhattan, just steps from Central Park. Fire department officials said workers cut open the glass on the 44th floor to reach the men. The maintenance workers, helped by firefighters, moved slowly from the scaffolding, lowered using safety ropes attached to the 46-story building's roof. Fire department Chief James Leonard said after the rescue it appeared the center motor of the scaffold's three motors may have failed. The metal scaffold, which was hoisted onto the roof afterward, also appeared to have buckled in the middle, into an elongated V shape. The men were on either side, communicating with firefighters on the roof for about an hour and a half. Fire officials said they were working with the city Department of Buildings to determine if the scaffold buckled after the motor failed or if it was always that shape. The men were working on the scaffold itself, fire officials said. The scaffold collapsed at about 2:40 p.m., and the men were rescued at 4:15 p.m. The two workers, a 26-year-old Bronx man and a 49-year-old Brooklyn man, underwent medical evaluations once they were taken inside. Fire department paramedic Moses Nelson said the workers were fine and in good spirits. "They were all smiles, thankfully," Nelson said. "No major injuries, no complaints." Authorities said the smiling men thanked their rescuers and called home. The Hearst Tower is the world headquarters of the Hearst Corp., a media and information company, and the first green high-rise office building in the city.
The accident is under investigation by the city Department of Buildings and the state Department of Labor.