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NYC window washer says he’d return to the job

November 14, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — A window washer who was left dangling from a tilting World Trade Center scaffold said Friday that he would go back tomorrow if asked, but his co-worker said he would prefer a more earthbound assignment.

“This job’s given me everything for my family, everything for me,” Juan Lizama said when asked if he would go back to washing windows at the nation’s tallest skyscraper after being stuck there Wednesday. “That’s why I say God bless America. I’m very happy to be here.”

Lizama’s co-worker Juan Lopez noted that not every window washer has to work hundreds of feet (meters) in the air.

“Ground-floor jobs. ... I will probably do that,” Lopez said.

The scaffold carrying Lizama and Lopez plunged into an almost vertical position outside the 104-floor tower when a cable suddenly loosened. Firefighters used diamond cutters to saw through a double-layered window and pull the men to safety after more than an hour. Lizama and Lopez were examined at a hospital and released.

The dramatic rescue came a little more than a week after the building officially opened.

Both men said they panicked at first but knew they would be safe once they saw firefighters.

Lizama said he panicked a little when the scaffold started tilting 68 stories up, but “we were always in control of the situation.” Lizama said he used his cellphone to call his wife and tell her he was fine.

Lizama, 41, and Lopez, 33, spoke in both English and Spanish at the news conference at the offices of their union, Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union.

They stressed the importance of their safety training.

Union officials deflected questions about the cause of the accident, which is under investigation.

John McDermott, head of the contractor that employs Lizama and Lopez, Upgrade Services LLC, said that by following safety protocols the men protected everyone on the ground as well as themselves.

Update hourly