Window Washer Dangling From River North Building Rescued

Traffic was being blocked on Dearborn Street from West Ohio to West Ontario Streets as emergency crews responded to the scene

A window washer dangling from a River North high-rise Tuesday afternoon was rescued in a dramatic scene that unfolded as rain poured down on the city.  

Traffic was blocked on Dearborn Street from West Ohio to West Ontario Streets as emergency crews responded to the scene. 

Chicago police said they were called just after noon to help shut down the roadway as crews worked to get a window washer to safety. Police said fire officials were at the scene and that a rope was about to break. 

A witness, Donald Davis, told NBC 5 he works across the street from where the incident took place and recorded a video of the scene.

“I just seen him dangling off the roof. It was very scary, I couldn’t believe it. I never seen nothing like it," Davis said.

The Chicago Fire Department said the window washer's scaffolding was "inoperable" and rescue crews were forced to go to the roof of the building to throw lines of rope to the worker. 

"He was up there working, he had two lines on him but his main line broke," said Battalion Squad One Chief Brian Mccardle. "So the second line grabbed him but he fell two stories in that time he was a little nervous but these guys immediately went to work."

The window washer was hauled up 10 floors and pulled to safety. Although weather conditions made rescue eforts more challenging, the rescue took less than 30 minutes and he did not appear injured, fire officials said. 

The man, who works for Corporate Cleaning Services, refused medical treatment at the scene, police said.

"We can confirm that earlier this afternoon while an employee was cleaning windows in River North one of the rope decent [sic] lines malfunctioned," the company said in a statement. "The backup safety system immediately engaged and our employee was safely retrieved with the assistance of the Chicago Fire Department. We’re grateful for their help and have already spoken to the manufacturer of the equipment to ensure any issues are addressed immediately."

The incident isn't the first for the window washing company, NBC 5 Investigates found. 

Corporate Cleaning Services was cited last year for serious violations of fixed ladders and fined nearly $6,000. In 2015, an employee fell approximately six stories on a rope descent system and the company was fined $4,000. In 2010, Corporate Cleaning was fined more than $2,000, twice, for defective and damaged equipment. 

“Safety is and will always be our highest priority," the company said in a statement. "We are proud to be the only window washing company in Chicago with a full time Saftey Director and all of our employees are fully OSHA trained and SPRAT certified.”

Contact Us