Sky Walk closed after jump attempt

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 11:38 07/01/2013
Sky Tower
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ

AERIAL DRAMA: The man who threatened to jump off the Sky Tower on the edge of the bungy platform.

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An investigation is underway into how a man scaled a safety fence and threatened to jump from Auckland's Sky Tower.

Police spent about five hours coaxing the mental health patient in from the edge of the SkyJump platform on Saturday.

The SkyWalk was closed today while operators reviewed safety procedures and would remain closed until that was completed, SkyWalk director Steve Weidmann said.

It was not known how long that would take. 

"This will include reviewing whether there can be any improvements made to our systems to prevent such an incident from occurring in the future," Weidmann said.

He said the man scaled a safety fence on the deck before he had been connected to the overhead safety harness.

"At all times the correct safety procedures were followed by all SkyWalk staff, and management are pleased with the safe outcome of the situation, with no harm to the man or any customers or staff."

The man is now back in the care of Waikato mental health services.

Waikato District Health Board is investigating how he left a mental health facility in Hamilton, where he is an inpatient.

Waikato Hospital communications director Mary Anne Gill said the man was now back in the care of the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre on the Waikato Hospital campus.

She could not say when the man left the centre as it was part of the investigation.

The 108-bed facility provides minimum to medium secure rehabilitation for the Waikato DHB and Midland region.

On Saturday, the man's attempts to throw himself off the bungy platform on the tower's 54th level without a harness sparked a dramatic emergency services call-out.

A section of Federal St and Victoria St was cordoned off from 3.10pm until the man was finally escorted off the platform by a harnessed police negotiation squad around 8pm.

A large crowd of onlookers watched the man walked to the edge of the platform 192m above the ground and sat down, dangling his legs over the edge.

Witnesses said he was dressed in an orange suit and appeared distressed on the tower's SkyWalk attraction after buying a ticket.

"He didn't harness up. He just stepped out and made it quite obvious he was contemplating taking his life," police Inspector Willie Taylor said yesterday.

Buses in the area were cancelled and the Sky Tower and two internal restaurants were closed during the incident. The SkyJump has reopened.

It's unknown if any criminal charges will be laid.

SkyWalk and SkyJump are independently operated from SKYCITY Entertainment Group Limited.

* An earlier version of this story said the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre was the scene of 190 assaults in the past financial year. This was incorrect.

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