Safety line for SkyWalkers

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013
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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Thrill seekers wanting to venture on to the rim of Auckland's Sky Tower will now be harnessed onto a safety line following an incident where a mental health patient threatened to jump off.

The SkyWalk reopened to the public last week following an investigation into how the patient was able to scale a safety fence on January 5.

SkyWalk director Steve Weidmann said the tourist venture reopened after meeting all safety requirements and adding extra safety precautions.

"This was a unique situation, with a mentally unwell man failing to follow all SkyWalk safety procedures and staff instructions," he said.

Police spent about five hours coaxing the patient in from the edge of the SkyJump platform.

He had climbed the safety fence on the deck before he had been connected to the overhead safety harness.

"Customers will now be attached to a secure safety line in a limited access room prior to stepping out of the tower into the fenced off area," Weidmann said.

Walkers will then be attached to the external overhead safety system before leaving the fenced area to begin the walk.

Weidmann said this is the first incident of its kind in five years of operation and more than 30,000 walks.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment approved the reopening of SkyWalk.

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 and prompted a large crowd to form at the base of the tower.

Onlookers watched as the man walked to the edge of the platform, 192m above the ground, and sat down, dangling his legs over the edge.

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

The man who sparked the emergency call out is now back in the care of Waikato mental health services.

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

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- Auckland Now

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