Hearst Tower rescue: Steve Schmidt thanks firefighters

A person is about to be pulled to A person is about to be pulled to safety through a window after being stuck on a scaffold on the side of the Hearst Building in Manhattan. (June 12, 2013) Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

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One of the two workers who spent more than an hour dangling from a scaffold at a Manhattan skyscraper is thanking his rescuers.

Steve Schmidt told WABC-TV on Thursday that the firefighters and others who rescued him were "professional." He added: "Thanks a lot, guys."

Schmidt, 49, said he thought about his family during his ordeal. He said hours afterward he was still a little shaken up.

"Just sat down," Schmidt told WABC. "I was just glad I was off it, just try to relax a little bit. ... I'm little shaken up still, but thanks to the fire department and emergency services, everything is all right."

In a dramatic event that froze traffic in midtown Manhattan, Schmidt and another maintanance worker were stranded outside the 44th floor of the Hearst Tower on Wednesday afternoon.

Fire officials said that the movable scaffolding used to hoist the men appears to have malfunctioned, causing the device to bend at an angle.

After the initial emergency call came in at around 2:39 p.m., police closed off traffic on Eighth Avenue as firefighters went to the roof, about two stories above the stranded men, to figure out how they could be rescued. Some 12 FDNY units responded. Traffic was also brought to a crawl on blocks north and south of the building.

At about 4:17 p.m., firefighters cut through windows adjacent to the stalled scaffold and brought both men inside the building. Officials said the men, who were performing maintenance on the scaffold that was specially designed for the unique building exterior, suffered very minor injuries.

The other stranded worker was Victor Carballo, 26, according to media reports.

Officials said the men worked for Tractel Inc., a company that specializes in mechanical hoist systems with offices in Long Island City. A woman answering the telephone at the Queens office Wednesday said the company had no comment and referred a reporter to the FDNY.

Down below, New Yorkers were at first not sure about what they were seeing. Luis Santamaria, 25, who lives in Manhattan, was walking in the area when he saw a huge crowd and all the fire engines. His first thought was that they were filming another Spider-Man movie.

"I've never seen anything like this, it's a very scary thing to happen to someone.," said Santamaria. "It's so crowded here it could have ended very tragically, but I'm thankful it didn't."

Lucrezia Campinoti, 19, of midtown, was in a taxi when the driver told her -- incorrectly -- that someone had fallen and died.

"I'm here to see them save them, this is like, a really scary situation, they're so high up," said Campinoti.

The Hearst building is headquarters for the media company. The modern structure was completed in 2006 at the cost of $500 million. Its exterior is graced by a series of triangular steel braces.

Tim Herrera contributed to this story

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