The boy was seen having a "blast" chasing around his little sister before climbing over the railing and taking the leap.
Trigger warning: The story contains details of suicide that might be distressing to some readers.
In the moments before a 14-year-old boy leaped to his death, he was seen having a "blast" as he chased his little sister around at the Vessel in Hudson Yards. The teenager was out with his parents, his sister, and his grandmother at the well-known Manhattan tourist attraction when the fun-filled family outing turned into a heartbreaking tragedy. "There were lots of tourists around," a security guard, who was there during the incident, told New York Post. "The kid was racing up the stairs with his younger sister and having a blast, having so much fun."
"One of my colleagues told them, ‘I know it’s fun and stuff, but you are not allowed to run in the Vessel,’ and, ‘Stay with your parents,'" the guard recalled. When the teenager was on the eighth floor of the 150-foot vertical sculpture, he jumped off the railing and fell to his death right in front of his family on Thursday, July 29. "I heard the impact," the guard said. "I saw [the boy] was wearing a colorful shirt. My heart just dropped."
"I saw his parents after,’’ the guard added. "The lady panicked. She was screaming and crying. The father was speechless. The sister was crying." Later, it was revealed that the boy experienced depression and tried to end his life on other occasions in the past. A friend of the grieving family described the boy and said, "He was a very sweet kid, very smart. We’re dealing with it. These things are never easy."
Although the Vessel is seen as a modern landmark, it has been a host for several such devastating incidents. In the past two years, four suicides have taken place at the sculpture, and because of this, the popular New York City tourist attraction may close for good.
Since the structure was opened to visitors in March 2019, it saw the first tragedy when a 19-year-old man plummetted to his death less than a year later. After two more suicides took place, the attraction was closed to bring in new safety measures to prevent such incidents. Additional security guards were placed, and they implemented "enhanced guest engagement and screening procedures to detect high-risk behaviors" among the visitors, according to a statement given by Stephen Ross, the billionaire chairman of The Related Companies, which is behind the Hudson Yards development.
This spring, the Vessel sculpture was opened to guests once again, and it was a rule that guests could only visit in groups of at least two people. Yet, the newly implemented safety measures could not stop the incident that took place on July 29. "We thought we did everything that would really prevent this,” Ross told The Daily Beast. “It’s hard to really fathom how something like that could happen. But you know, I feel terrible for the family."
Lowell Kern, chair of Manhattan Community Board 4, which operates in parts of western Manhattan, including Hudson Yards, said it wasn't right for the company behind the sculpture to say they did everything they could. "For Related to claim they did everything possible here is just not true," said Kern. They could have raised the height of the barriers, and that would have prevented this tragedy. For reasons unknown to us they decided not to do that."
For now, the installation remains shut, and the company is yet to make a decision on the structure's future.
If you or someone you know shows signs of suicidal thoughts, please reach out to 1-800-273-8255 (NCPL) or suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Cover image source: PIX11 News/YouTube