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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Daredevils

Both the DAILY NEWS and NEW YORK POST today had articles on Jeb Corliss who was arrested for first-degree reckless endangerment last April when he tried to parachute from the Empire State Building. Yesterday, Justice Michael Ambrecht dismissed all charges against him.

The judge ruled that Corliss', "Training, planning and use of a parachute negated" the risk of death to pedestrians, cops and motorists below. Apparently Corliss factored in wind conditions and traffic-light patterns to ensure he wouldn't land on moving cars and this negated the finding of reckless endangerment. The judge also felt that Corliss was too experienced and too concerned with public safety to have met the depraved indifference standard.

That reminded me of that August day in 1974 when I heard that Phillipe Petit had walked on a cable strung between the two towers of the World Trade Center. He was more of a dancer on the cable than a walker. At the other tower, when the police asked him to get off the wire, he rushed back to the middle and was bouncing up and down.

When the news got around, Petit became somewhat of a folk hero, and as a result of all the attention and public adulation of his performance, all charges were dropped.

Back to the Empire State Building, the District Attorney's office is considering an appeal. They believe that jumping from the Empire State Building remains a reckless act. Corliss has insisted he trained for years for the jump, and he didn't endanger anyone. He also refused to say whether he'll make another attempt to jump from King Kong's perch.

I guess the moral of this story is, if you want to jump from the Empire State Building, remember to take your parachute. It also helps if you can get some good publicity and stir the imagination of the public.

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