Caught on video: Man in suit jumps across high-rise rooftop about 23 stories above NYC

ByKemberly Richardson via WABC logo
Thursday, October 6, 2022
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A daredevil and award-winning cinematographer provided answers to a sky-high spectacle that was captured on camera at a high-rise building in New York City.

LOWER MANHATTAN, New York -- Dancing across rooftops is typically something you would see in a cat burglar movie, but an Emmy award-winning film director caught the real thing on camera and his social media post of it is now viral.

This all played out Monday morning about 23 stories above a street in Lower Manhattan, New York. Our sister station WABC spoke to both the man who shot the video and the daredevil himself.

Cinematographer Erik Ljung naturally took a double take when he saw a man in a suit gracefully leaping from one ledge to another, way up on a high-rise.

"He was wearing dress shoes, which don't have great grip and it was raining all morning, so for us, yo what is going on here," Ljung said.

At one point, the daredevil stops, takes a call and snaps some pictures.

A resident named Phil lives in the luxury building on the 22nd floor.

"That's my apartment that he just ran over," Phil said.

At the time, Ljung, an award-winning cinematographer and director, was working on a project across the street in a building.

He went to check the lighting when he caught the daredevil's act on camera.

"To me it didn't look like he was in distress at any time, he looked fairly comfortable out there," Ljung said.

Otherwise, Ljung said he absolutely would have stopped filming and called for help.

The man appeared to know exactly what he was doing, but why?

"I think he got locked out of his apartment and had to use the bathroom," one woman said.

Finally, in a story that seemed to have more holes than a New York bagel, a comment posted on Ljung's page, led WABC reporter Kemberly Richardson to a woman who said she knew exactly who this was.

A short time later, the mystery was solved.

"My name is Joe Smizaski and I'm director of operations and I go out of roofs like this all the time," Smizaski said.

He explained that he is in the waterproofing business and was checking things out before meeting an inspector there about removing a sidewalk shed.

He told Richardson that he's done this dozens of times, with and without safety gear, and that this time he was not harnessed.

Smizaski said that if he had on safety gear while jumping like he did, the act would have been more dangerous and would have pulled him down.