A popular tourist attraction in New York City may shut down for good after a 14-year-old boy leapt to his death on Thursday—while his loved ones apparently looked on.
Police say the teen jumped from the eighth story of the Vessel sculpture in New York City’s Hudson Yards shortly before 1 p.m. The boy, who has not yet been identified, was pronounced dead at the scene, police told the New York Daily News.
Stephen Ross, the billionaire chairman of The Related Companies, the global real-estate firm that is behind Hudson Yards, says the development’s marquee art installation might close for good following the latest suicide.
“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.”
Some community leaders say that Related could have done more.
“For Related to claim they did everything possible here is just not true,” said Lowell Kern, chair of Manhattan Community Board 4, which operates in parts of western Manhattan, including Hudson Yards. “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.”
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741
The teen who died Thursday is the fourth person to take their own life at the structure since it opened to much fanfare in March 2019.
Within less than a year, a 19-year-old New Jersey man plunged to his death from the top of the structure in front of a crowd of tourists. Two more suicides soon followed, one in late 2020 and another in January 2021.
The structure was consequently shuttered temporarily before reopening in the spring with several new rules in place meant to prevent any further suicides. In addition to additional security staff, Hudson Yards developer Related touted “enhanced guest engagement and screening procedures to detect high-risk behaviors” among visitors.
Visitors were also required to come in groups of at least two, a move which Related said “significantly enhances the safety of the experience.”
Ross said the teen was visiting with four other members of his family.
“A family of five doesn’t fit any profile,” he said.
Lone individuals were not allowed up, Ross noted, and staff were positioned on multiple levels to look for individuals showing signs of distress.
“We are heartbroken by this tragedy and our thoughts are with the family of the young person who lost their life,” spokeswoman Kimberly Winston said. “We are conducting a full investigation.”
Ross says that the installation will be temporarily closed while his team considers whether to open it again long-term.
“I want to see every possibility we can do. I mean, we thought we had covered everything.”
--Cheyenne Ubiera contributed reporting