New York City, NY

The Woman Who Jumped From Empire State Building’s 86th Floor and Survived

Andrei Tapalaga

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Elvita Adams in the ambulance after her fall in 1979Wikimedia Commons

Since 1930 when the building of the Empire State Building was finished over a dozen people attempted suicide by jumping off the building. Known as one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, the Empire State Building ranks at a height of around 1,050 feet (320 meters), more than sufficient to get the job done. One lucky person managed to survive a suicide attempt. Elvita Adams is the one and only person to jump from such a great height and survive to tell the tale. 

The lucky one 

The event occurred on December the 2nd 1979. At that time Elvita Adams was only 29 years old and struggling to live in New York City. A few months earlier she lost her job and since she was living off $100 welfare checks. This wasn’t enough to cover her rent and her landlord was constantly threatening her with eviction. 

Suffering from depression there wasn’t much for her to do, nor no one to get financial help from. On the brink of desperation and pushed by depression, Adams found herself lying on the 85th-floor ledge of the Empire State Building. The 86th floor houses the famous observation deck where most tourists go to admire New York. 

Due to previous suicide attempts the observation deck on the 86th floor had been surrounded by an eight-foot, iron spiked fence. The event occurred during the night at around 8 PM. Adams reached the 86th floor and jumped. 

In an article published by the Times Newspaper on December 3rd, 1979, there is a mention of a spokesman from the building saying that usually there are four guards patrolling the 86th floor. No one was there to stop Adams from jumping.

Miracle or Luck?

A guard named George Reice found Adams lying on the 85th-floor ledge of the building. In his testimony, he mentioned that around 8:15 PM he heard calls for help from the 85th floor. What happened is that Adams jumped and landed on a three-foot ledge about 20 feet below

After Geroge Reice helped her out an ambulance took Adams to Bellevue Hospital. She only escaped with a fractured pelvis and a huge traumatic wake-up. Adams wasn’t able to understand what saved her, neither no one else that night. The authorities at first speculated that someone threw her off, but she assured the police that she attempted suicide. 

The same article from the Times also mentioned that authorities from the Empire State Building theorized that the wind may have been what saved her. At that great height, wind gusts can be really powerful, so powerful that they would have the ability to change the course of a falling person. Experts say that at that height winds can reach a speed of 110 miles per hour

Not much is known about Elvita Adams after her attempted suicide, some say she became a comedian in New York. Whatever the case, that is definitely one strong wake-up call that there is a lot more to life even during difficult financial times. 

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