Woman, 22, rescued from crane at downtown construction site facing 6 mischief charges
Codi Wilson, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, April 26, 2017 5:20AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 27, 2017 8:12PM EDT
A 22-year-old woman rescued from a crane after being stranded for more than four hours has been charged with six counts of mischief in what Toronto police have called a “logistic nightmare.”
Officers were called to the area of Church and Wellesley streets shortly before 4 a.m. Wednesday for reports of a woman trapped on a crane.
Police told CP24 that it appears the woman, identified as Marisa Lazo, climbed up to the very top of the boom of the crane and then somehow managed to lower herself down a cable onto a block on the crane's hook.
- Extended: Woman rescued from crane
- Extended: Rescuer reaches woman on crane
- Extended: Woman stuck on construction crane
- Extended: Woman arrested after crane rescue
The block where Lazo was sitting measured about two feet long by six inches wide.
Toronto Fire Capt. Rob Wonfor and a police emergency task force negotiator scaled the crane to reach her.
“Obviously the crews really can’t determine what the situation is or what the plan is until they are actually there,” Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg told reporters at the scene.
The initial idea was to secure her to a safety harness and then lower the crane but the plan changed when crews became concerned about safety ropes becoming entangled in the machinery.
Wonfor and the woman ultimately rappelled down to safety at around 8:30 a.m.
“We train for this and our crews certainly train for this, although we’ve never seen one quite like this before,” Pegg said.
“There really isn’t a textbook but I think they just wrote it.”
The fire chief said in total, it took about 2.5 hours for Wonfor to climb up the crane and bring the female to safety.
Pegg called the rescue “a very well-executed operation” by a “highly skilled technical rescuer.”
Speaking to reporters following the ordeal, Wonfor said the female was “very calm” during the rescue.
“She made me calm actually,” he said.
“She had a little, thin coat on but you know what, she was a brave girl. She helped me when I got there so we were both calm.”
He said Toronto Fire Services provides good training for high-angle rescues.
“I do a lot of rope work with trees and that plus I’m a bit of a monkey so they thought, you’re the guy,” Wonfor said.
Pegg told CP24 that firefighters training will increasingly focus on high-rise buildings due to Toronto's expansion.
"Our city is very vertical, it's increasing so not only high-and-go rescues like we saw today, but firefighting in tall buildings, our response in evening dealing with medical emergencies in tall buildings poses different challenges," Pegg said. "As we continue to grow and evolve that's a top priority for us is to continue to keep up with the vertical pace and make sure our training and equipment match the needs of the city."
The acting Toronto fire captain, who was understandably fatigued, said he still planned on playing in a hockey tournament this morning.
“We’ve got a game at 11 so I don’t want to be late,” he laughed.
He added that he still does not know how the female got up to the top of the crane, which is approximately 12 storeys tall.
“She is going to tell me later because I need to write it down,” he said. “That’s how I do it next time.”
It is still not clear why she decided to climb up the crane in the first place.
She was placed in handcuffs when she reached the ground.
Speaking to reporters from 51 Division Wednesday afternoon, Det. Barry Radford said the woman has been charged with six counts of public mischief by interfering with property.
Radford said the woman was taken to St. Michael’s Hospital following the rescue where she was eventually given a medical clearance.
He said Lazo will remain in police custody until a court appearance tomorrow morning “to ensure that she doesn’t do this again.”
“You saw the number of emergency personal there, it’s a logistic nightmare,” he said.
Radford said he’s awaiting a cost evaluation from the construction company affected by the incident.
“It’s not so much the rationale, you’ll never understand a person’s rationale but the thing that everyone has to take into consideration is the severe impact her actions had on this city -- not only on our emergency personnel, the safety of people and the impact of construction worker’s daily live,” he said.
“People have got to understand.”
Radford said the woman is cooperating with police in their investigation but he refused to provide any other details on her motive.
Criminal defence lawyer Ali Goldkind says police have to charge her.
"The police have their hands tied here," he said Wednesday afternoon. "Here's why, first of all you worry about copycats -- people going off and doing it again ... she did interfere with property."
Goldkind added won't likely hold up in a courtroom.
"There's very little to this," he said. "The charges will either be dropped and diverted or a little minor slap on the wrist."
Toronto Paramedic Services told CP24 Wednesday morning the woman was taken to hospital in stable condition.