December 14, 2017 2:08 pm
Updated: December 14, 2017 2:12 pm

Famed Chinese ‘rooftopper’ falls to his death from 62-storey building in stunt gone wrong

ABOVE: A young Chinese climbing enthusiast's fatal fall from a skyscraper while making a selfie video on a $19,000 "rooftopping" dare has spurred warnings by state media against the perils of livestreaming.


A well-known “rooftopper” fell to his death from a 62-storey building in China while attempting to record a selfie video for a contest that came with $19,000 in prize money.

Wu Yongning, 26, plummeted to his death on Nov. 8 after losing his grip from the side of the building he was attempting to do pull-ups on. It wasn’t until a month later his girlfriend confirmed the death of the daredevil on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter.

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According to South China Morning Post, Yongning was performing the stunt in effort to win 100,000 yuan, money that his family said he planned to use towards a wedding and to take care of an ailing family member. It’s unclear what company sponsored the “rooftopping” challenge but Yongning performed his attempt atop of the Huayuan Hua Centre in Changsha, Hunan province.

READ MORE: Toronto woman charged with mischief after crane rescue

Yongning had amassed nearly 60,000 followers on his social media account, where he often posted videos of himself dangling from vertigo-inducing buildings, taking selfies from large antennas atop of buildings and perched on window ledges.

Wu Yongning plunged to his death from a 62-storey building in central China on Nov. 8.

Wu Yongning/Weibo

Yongning pictured on Sept. 22, 2017.

Wu Yongning/Weibo

Yongning pictured on Sept. 22, 2017.

Wu Yongning/Weibo

“Rooftopping,” 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 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.

Andrey R. is shown in a handout photo from his Instagram account. The 17-year-old boy in Russia died after falling nine storeys from a rooftop while engaging in the extremely dangerous “rooftopping photography.”

AP Photo/Handout

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.

Yongning’s death prompted warnings in China’s state media against the dangers of livestreaming and social media apps.

“Some of them try to hype things up with obscene and dangerous things, and their purpose is to attract more eyeballs and make a profit,” read an editorial in the China Daily News.

“There should be a bottom line for livestreaming platforms, and supervision should leave no loopholes,” ran a comment in the online edition of the People’s Daily.

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

A woman is rescued from a downtown Toronto crane early Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn

Last month, a man died after falling from the 20th floor of a Chicago hotel. 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 April, a 23-year-old Toronto woman was arrested on six counts of mischief after she had to be rescued from a construction crane.

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

— with a file from Reuters

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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