Inside Sarasota’s second high-angle rescue in a month


SARASOTA – A construction worker dangles from the side of a Sarasota building: a scenario the Sarasota County Fire Department knows well.

“The question would be, ‘How come we’ve had two in a month?'” Sarasota Co. Fire Dept. Chief Michael Regnier said. “You know that’s the nature of the business, there’s a lot of construction going on, within Sarasota County.”

It happened Monday morning at Sarasota’s 624 South Palm building.

Jeff Luchok was walking by the building when he saw the worker in the air.

“Thought I would stop by and check it out, looked kinda scary you know,” Luchok said. “Never seen anybody dangling off the side of a building.”

Regnier said the scaffolding fell on one side after it malfunctioned.

“Our personnel arrived and determined that it was a high-angle rescue,” he said.

The worker was not injured, but he was hanging from an almost completely vertical platform.

“He was in his safety harness, so there was no possibility of him getting injured,” Regnier said. “We looked at a couple possibilities of how to rescue him through a number of options.”

Two of the options: to raise him to safety on the building’s roof, or to take out the window next to him.

The windows are hurricane-grade, so that option would have been too complicated.

“We would’ve had to either cut the window, or taken out the frame which would’ve caused even more issues for us, and could’ve potentially caused injury to the person that was stuck, and also the rescuers that were on scene,” Regnier said.

They determined that the safest option was to lower the worker down to the ground.

“It took a little bit longer because of that, but we wanted to make sure that everybody remained safe,” Regnier said.

By taking their time, they safely lowered the man to the ground from almost 140 feet in the air.

“When you’re in your harness and you’re safe, these are the good things that happen,” Regnier said.

Luchok said he couldn’t imagine being that high off the ground.

“I would just be grateful that somebody was hanging on to me you know,” he said, “that that last cable didn’t break. That would’ve been frightening waiting, you know?”

Sarasota Co. Fire Dept. is calling this a success story.

“There was not a lot of stress or concern,” Regnier said. “Everything worked out.”

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Hallie Peilet
Hallie Peilet is an Indiana University graduate with a degree in broadcast journalism, and a minor in music. She has had experience in several media outlets. Previously, she interned for WCIU-TV in Chicago, learning about production and live reporting. During her senior year at IU, she worked as a reporter and anchor for her campus news station, and as a multimedia journalist for WTIU/WFIU, the PBS/NPR affiliate in Bloomington. She grew up just outside of Chicago in Munster, Indiana, and in her free time she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, discovering new music, and watching Chicago sports. If you have an idea for a story, e-mail her at