Skydivers arrested over jump from New York's World Trade Centre

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, 9:42pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 4:07am


Three extreme-skydiving enthusiasts accused of parachuting off New York's World Trade Centre tower last year have turned themselves in to police, in a second criminal case in two weeks arising from surreptitious stunts at the tallest building in the United States.

The three daredevils and someone accused of being an accomplice were expecting to face felony burglary charges over a September 30 leap from the building, where a teenage boy was arrested on March 16.

Authorities said the boy had slipped through a gap in a fence, eluded a security guard and spent about two hours atop the 541-metre-tall tower.

The incidents have raised questions about security at the lower Manhattan site, which is supposed to be one of the most tightly protected in the US. The skyscraper, still under construction, crowns the rebuilt World Trade Centre, a project steeped in security concerns.

Although defence lawyers confirmed the arrests of the skydivers, the New York Police Department and the Manhattan district attorney's office had no immediate information on any charges.

The NYPD said last autumn that investigators were looking for two parachutists in dark jumpsuits seen floating near the building around 3am on September 30, landing by a nearby skyscraper and walking away.

It was "very exhilarating," one of the accused jumpers, Andrew Rossig, said on Monday as he and co-defendant James Brady headed to a police office to surrender.

"It's a fair amount of free-fall time," he said. "You really get to enjoy the view of the city and see it from a different perspective."

Rossig said the skydivers took care to avoid endangering anyone, choosing a time when streets would be largely deserted. Brady, an ironworker who used to work at the trade centre, declined to comment.

It wasn't immediately clear how investigators swooped on Rossig, Brady, skydiving instructor Marko Markovich and Kyle Hartwell, who is accused of being their cohort on the ground.

Police searched their homes last month and obtained video of the jump, which hadn't been posted online or otherwise publicised, Rossig's attorney Timothy Parlatore said.

Hartwell's lawyer, Joseph Murray, said Hartwell also surrendered. Markovich's attorney, Joseph Corozzo, said his client was a "very responsible individual" and highly trained parachuting instructor.

"He has an impeccable background, and I just hope that he's not turned into some form of a scapegoat for the Port Authority's shortcomings" in security, Corozzo said.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has called what 16-year-old Justin Casquejo is accused of doing earlier this month "shocking and troubling".

More than 200 NYPD officers, surveillance cameras and other technology is devoted to protecting the perimeter of the site, while Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police and private security agents guard the inside.