Painters rescued from high-rise after platform drops in Collier County

Reporter: Gail Levy
Published: Updated:
Painters were rescued by firefighters after the platform they were standing on collapsed.

Two painters on the job almost fell to their deaths in Naples on Wednesday, but having the right gear and an incredible rescue helped them survive.

The rescue was caught on camera. It happened on the 18th floor of the St. Raphael at Pelican Bay condos.

The two men nearly died when neighbors said the swing stage dropped to the vertical position.

“What had happened was the platform, this platform back here, the rope has snapped and it has fallen on one side, left two men who are on the platform swinging,” said Rowanna Handy, who lives on the 17th floor.

One man swung off to an open window on the ninth floor by himself.

The other got stuck swinging until firefighters could get to him.

“The one man had to get around, if you see the column over there, he had to climb from the ledge around the column to the window that would open. So that was really scary,” Handy said.

Firefighters were originally going to rappel down the building to get the painter.

“But there were some storms rolling in so the decision was made to try and bring him in that window, secured him to some ropes, secured the truck officer and the North Collier firefighters basically anchored him back,” said Erik Espineta, battalion chief for North Collier Fire Department.

Anchored back to safety, only possible because of the way the painter was anchored to his own gear.

“Fortunately, they were wearing their harness and their safety gear and that made all the difference in the world,” Espineta said.

North Collier firefighters said the last time they made a rescue like this was 15 years ago, but they’re always training for it just in case.

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