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TORONTO

Woman stuck on Toronto crane rescued after tense mission for firefighters

Drama unfolds over Toronto's skyline after woman is found clinging to a cable a dozen storeys up, then brought down safely

A woman is rescued from a downtown Toronto crane early on April 26, 2017.

A woman who got stuck atop part of a construction crane in downtown Toronto was rescued on Wednesday morning by being strapped to a rappelling firefighter and lowered to the ground.

She had been perched on a gently swaying, thin and short pulley device for at least five hours and was clinging to a steel cable when Acting Fire Captain Rob Wonfor reached her. Police have not released motivation for making the climb.

"It's an outstanding success," Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said of the operation. "We train for this, although we've never seen one like this before."

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When emergency officials arrived around 3:10 a.m., it was a crisp 5 degrees. A police negotiator spoke with the woman, who is believed to be in her mid-20s. Then, around 6 a.m., Capt. Wonfor and the police negotiator scaled the crane. At 8 a.m., Capt. Wonfor lowered himself down to the woman on the pulley.

The firefighter then carefully strapped himself to the woman and the pair were slowly lowered onto the ground about half an hour later.

"She has to tell me how she did it, because she has to be our new training officer for high-angle [rescue], because it's impressive," Capt. Wonfor said. "It was hard enough for me to go up with ropes and harnesses, and she free-climbed that."

A woman is rescued from a downtown Toronto crane early on April 26, 2017.

The woman and rescue worker rappel down from the crane.

Paramedics attend to the woman after her rescue.

The woman was taken in police custody.

Capt. Wonfor said he did not ask her for an explanation during the rescue because they needed to stay focused. But he noted the woman did not seem frightened and was "very calm."

Both were checked by paramedics and the woman was treated on-scene for a minor condition. The woman, who police identified as 23-year-old Marisa Lazo, was then handcuffed and handed over to paramedics. Ms. Lazo faces six counts of mischief by interfering with property and will appear in court Thursday.

The crane was in a construction site on Wellesley Street East near Yonge Street that is managed by TMG Builders Inc. The company's executive vice-president, Marc Moro, said that the premises were secured by a fence and live-monitored security cameras. TMG is conducting an investigation to learn how the woman climbed the crane while security staff video-monitored the site.

The camera security company, Live Patrol, declined to comment.

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Mr. Moro said he believes the woman climbed over the fence to get onto the site. Fire crews suspect she then climbed up the crane, crawled out on to the end of it, and slid down a cable to the large pulley device and got stranded.

Construction has stopped at the site until investigators determine whether the site or the crane were damaged. Mr. Moro did not comment on whether the company will pursue legal action against the woman, but noted that pauses in construction cause significant financial loss.


With a report from the Canadian Press

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