on a prayer, a high-rise window washer stuck in his safety harness escaped serious injury Wednesday morning when he was rescued from a Harrisburg office building.
Michael St-Pierre said he began his day like any other. He was washing a seventh-floor window at the Penn
National Insurance building in the first block of N. 2nd Street when his seat became entangled in his safety harness.
Witnesses watched as the 22-year-old hung onto his harness and tried to wiggle free.
"I was turning my head. I didn't want to see it," said Robert Roth, who runs a breakfast cart on the corner of 2nd and
Onlookers gasped as St-Pierre suddenly dropped several feet.
"He was just hanging there, then all of a sudden he just
dropped between one and two stories," Roth said.
St-Pierre said an automatic safety mechanism took over, but slack
in his rope caused him to fall.
"You could say I was a little sacred," St-Pierre said. "[I was
trusting] that my equipment was going to work, it's not going to fail on me, just put faith in it."
Several people below dialed 911 and Harrisburg firefighters responded within minutes.
"I was just praying for him, that they got to
him before anything else broke and he hit the ground," Roth said. "There was
nothing that you could do. He was just dangling in the air."
St-Pierre was in danger of being
killed by the very ropes that had saved his life. Rescue crews said he was stuck in a "compression position" that restricted blood flow in his legs.
Deputy Fire Chief Michael Horst said most people have only 30
minutes before such a situation can turn fatal.
St-Pierre was stuck for about 25 minutes before firefighters used a ladder to cut him loose and bring him down.
"It just happened at once," St-Pierre said. "It was a little
St-Pierre was treated on the scene by emergency medical technicians and released. He eventually went back to work at another building.
"Thanks for coming to get me," was his message to the firefighters who rescued him. "I knew I was getting saved. I'm glad someone did. Thank you for being there."