How Window Washer Survived His 11-Story Fall

Car he hit acted as a shock absorber; victim still in critical condition
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 26, 2014 6:22 PM CST
How Window Washer Survived His 11-Story Fall
A pair of San Francisco police officers look over the scene. The damaged car is at left.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

A 58-year-old window washer who fell 11 stories from a building onto a moving car is "fighting for his life" and opens his eyes when relatives speak to him, says his family. The man's name and hometown have not been released. "We are amazed that he fell from such a high distance and still survived," says a family statement. "Landing on the car really helped, and we are so thankful for that." Police say the man was moving equipment on the roof of a bank building in San Francisco's financial district and not on a window-washing platform when he fell Friday morning, crashing against the roof and back window of a sedan.

So how did he possibly survive the impact? Physics professor Paul Doherty explains that it took about three seconds for the man, falling at an estimated speed of 60mph, to hit the car, which acted as a big shock absorber. "He crushed the roof in a part where there were no reinforcement pillars and that allowed the roof to collapse more than a foot, maybe even two feet, under him and spread out the impact," says Doherty. "He is a really lucky guy." Also lucky is the driver of that car, who was not injured. (Read more window washer stories.)

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