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article imageSan Francisco window-washer survives 11-story fall

By Nathan Salant     Nov 22, 2014 in Odd News
San Francisco - A San Francisco window-washer appears to have survived an 11-story plunge off a downtown office building after landing on a moving car and tumbling onto California Street.
A slow-moving Toyota Camry that was trying to park apparently broke the still-unidentified window-washer's fall, enabling him to survive the 130-foot fall from the roof of the Alvinza Hayward Building at 400 Montgomery St.
The window-washer was taken by ambulance to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was listed in serious condition Friday evening, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
A group of residents surrounded the victim as he lay in the street and blocked traffic on the busy downtown thoroughfare until paramedics arrived, the newspaper said.
“At first all I saw was, out of the corner of my eye, a blue streak falling,” said retired U.S. Army Col. Sam Hartwell, a San Francisco banker who was passing by Friday morning around 10 a.m.
“Then I heard that loud crash, the shattering glass and a thud. It wasn’t until the man rolled over onto the pavement and landed on his back that I realized it was a person,” Hartwell said.
Hartwell said the man was conscious but was having difficulty breathing, so he and others tried to encourage him.
“We spoke to him, reassuring him that help was on the way,” Hartwell told the newspaper.
“He was doing his best to control his breathing, but he couldn’t speak; I got close and told him, 'Breathe, just breathe,’” Hartwell said.
The driver of the car, which suffered a smashed roof and other damage, stayed at the scene and helped the victim, the newspaper said.
"He was one lucky man to survive that fall," said Peter Melton of the California Department of Industrial Relations, which dispatched workplace inspectors to review the scene to figure out what had happened.
"It seems pretty clear that cushioning of the car he fell onto kept him alive," Melton said.
The window cleaner was employed by Century Window Cleaning of Concord, which did not respond to phone calls seeking comment, the newspaper said.
The driver of the car, Mohammad Alcozai of Dublin, got out almost immediately after the impact that destroyed the roof of his 2002 Camry, and was grateful that nobody else was hurt.
“It was a miracle that he was able to fall in my car, and it was a miracle that I was OK," Alcozai said.
“I just hope he comes through all right,” he said.
The building at Montgomery and California streets, also called the Kohl Building, was built in 1901 and survived the great San Francisco earthquake and fire in 1906.
It was not damaged.
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