Who is the NYC rooftop jumper? Eyewitness News solves mystery behind viral daredevil stunt

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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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An Emmy award-winning film director caught a sky-high daredevil act in Lower Manhattan on camera and his social media post of it has gone viral. Kemberly Richardson gets to the bottom of this mystery.

LOWER MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) -- 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 about 23 stories above a street in Lower Manhattan. Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson spoke to both the man who shot the video and the daredevil himself.

"I was like, yo, you guys got to check this out, this is some weird New York (expletive) going on," cinematographer Erik Ljung said.

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 in Lower Manhattan.

"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.

It unfolded at 90 West Street on Monday morning.

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

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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 Eyewitness News 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.

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