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‘Rooftopping’ gone wrong? Toronto woman charged with mischief after crane rescue

A woman is rescued from a downtown Toronto crane early Wednesday, April 26, 2017. The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn

Marisa Lazo was arrested on six counts of mischief charges after a daring rescue from a construction crane in downtown Toronto following what appeared to be a “rooftopping” outing gone wrong.

The 23-year-old scaled a construction crane early Wednesday morning and became stuck atop the approximately 12-storey-high crane’s hook for several hours.

A firefighter specializing in high-climb rescues was sent in to climb the crane boom and rappel down to the woman, eventually bringing her to safety.

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Though authorities have yet to say what led to Lazo scaling the crane and eventually becoming stuck, it appeared to be a result of a “rooftopping” trip that went sour.

Several photos on Instagram appear to show Lazo atop of buildings in Toronto, using various hashtags including#rooftopping, as recent as last week.

@LazoDelmar via Instagram
@LazoDelmar via Instagram
@LazoDelmar via Instagram

So, what exactly is “rooftopping?”

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The so-called photography movement has been around since at least 2012, where photographers, and often their models, brave dizzying heights in city centres to capture breathtaking views from above.

At first, typical images made by “rooftoppers” were usually photographs of their legs and feet dangling over the edge of a tall structures, including cranes, with city streets seen below.

As the movement progressed so did “rooftoppers’” images and the risks they’d take to create them. The photographers would capture their fellow “toppers” walking on the edges of buildings, perched atop of cranes and sometimes dangling from scaffolding.

Social media was a main driver in the popularity of the “rooftopping” scene as more people joined Instagram, Twitter and 500px.

Toronto-based photographer Tom Ryaboi was at the forefront of the “rooftopping” movement and has amassed an Instagram following of more than 118,000 people. He’s also been arrested as result of his “rooftopping” excursions.

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Photographers can face mischief, break-and-enter or trespassing charges if caught “rooftopping.”

There have been at least three deaths linked to the photography movement.

A 17-year-old man fell off a building in Russia and a 24-year-old New Yorker slipped off the roof of the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan. In 2012, a photographer died after he fell into a Chicago building’s smokestack.

In 2016, Toronto police warned against the dangers of “rooftopping,” while calling for an end to the movement.