Four daredevils, including three Long Islanders, who were arrested this week for skydiving off the new World Trade Center tower last fall say their stunt helped expose security gaps at the site.
New York City police said the extreme skydivers endangered the public when they parachuted off the nation’s tallest building and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the site, accused the men of disrespecting the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks—claims the quartet countered by promising to donate any proceeds from their jump video to 9/11 victims.
“One of the jumpers worked construction at the WTC and violated the spirit of respect and reverence for this sacred site that almost all connected with the WTC project feel,” the Port Authority told The Associated Press.
“It was a calculated risk,” Andrew Rossig, 33, of upstate Slate Hill, told CBS while describing how the group sneaked up to the top of the 1,776-foot tower in the early morning hours of Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 and parachuted passed neighboring buildings down to the street below.
Rossig was charged with burglary, reckless endangerment and jumping from a structure along with Marko Markovich, 27, of Lake Ronkonkoma, 32-year-old James Brady of Kings Park, the former construction worker at the site, and 29-year-old Kyle Hartwell of East Patchogue, who allegedly acted as the group’s lookout on the ground.
A judge set bail for the group at $3,500—except for Rossig, who was released without bail—at their initial Manhattan court appearance. They are due back in court in July.
Their arrest came a week after a New Jersey teenager was arrested for allegedly sneaking up to the top of the tower to take a selfie—gaining access to the site the same way as the skydivers: through a hole in the fence. Two CNN producers were also arrested for allegedly trying to get through a fence at the WTC site this week.
The group are self-described BASE—short for “building, antenna, span, earth—jumpers. They released a 93-second video filmed with a helmet-mounted camera that shows Rossig’s view as he dove off the roof of the skyscraper and parachuted north onto West Side Highway, then hurrying out of the way of an oncoming car.
“Being a thrill-seeker does not give immunity from the law,” NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said. “These arrests should send a message to anyone thinking about misusing a landmark this way.”