Wu Yongning, one of those new breed of daredevils known as “rooftoppers,” regularly posted videos of his dizzying expeditions to the structural heavens far above the streets of big cities. When watching his videos, you will feel your heart sputter in your throat. These crazy adrenaline junkies play at the top of girders, hundreds of feet in the air, while photographing themselves performing feats which, at ground level would not mean a thing, but which performed at spectacular heights, suddenly take on life-or-death significance. A simple pull-up or one-legged pose, atop of building over 500 feet in the air, doesn’t seem quite as mundane as it would at sea level.
On November 8, Wu posted on his Weibo blog. And was not heard from again.
That was when, the police in China now confirm, Mr. Wu fell to his death from the top of the Huayuan Hua Center, a building more than 60 stories high, in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, Chinese media reports said recently.
Turns out there is a human element to Yongning’s daredevilry as well.
Mr. Wu’s family told the Xiaoxiang Morning Post, a newspaper based in Changsha, that the young man, who had worked as a film extra, had dangled himself from the building for a video he hoped would earn as much as $15,000 if it went viral — money he would use to get married and pay his mother’s medical bills.
An excerpt from the video of Mr. Wu’s last moments shows him on top of the building, clad in black with his hair pulled back from his face, meticulously and repeatedly wiping the ledge. He swung his legs over the edge and partially hung there, clutching it with the full length of his arms, before pulling himself up and sitting down to wipe the edge again.
Then he swung his legs over one by one for a final time. He did two pull-ups into the void, gripping the ledge. Attempting a third, he appeared to struggle, trying to find a hold with one foot after the other. A small sound resembling a human voice, perhaps a whimper, can be heard on the recording. Then he dropped.
This is a partial clip of his fall:
Some reaction to Yongning’s fall has been predictably judgmental and harsh, but ultimately, the slender man’s fate was his own. He knew the risks and he obviously accepted them. For instance, I know the risks, but would never accept the possible outcome. I am terrified of heights. You would never get me close to one of those ledges without coils of safety rope or 6-foot-high safety ledges surrounding.
Yongning was foolish, but it was his own foolish. Who isn’t foolish, anyhow. We should embrace foolish, for the world would be bleak without it.