ON AIR: Marcus Lush Nights

8p.m. - 11:59p.m.

Social media trend 'rooftopping' remains popular despite deaths

Author
Natalie Wolfe, news.com.au,
Section
World,
Publish Date
Sunday, 6 January 2019, 3:15p.m.
Prominent Chinese 'rooftopper' Wu Yongning was livestreaming when he died. (Photo / Instagram)
Prominent Chinese 'rooftopper' Wu Yongning was livestreaming when he died. (Photo / Instagram)

It was supposed to be the stunt that would pay for his wedding and provide his sick mother with medical help.

Instead, Wu Yongning, who called himself "China's First Rooftopper", lost his grip right at the end of the risky stunt and plunged from the 62-storey building to his death.

It's been over a year since the 26-year-old daredevil performed pull-ups on the edge of Huayuan International Centre in Changsha, a city in central China.

Wu regularly went live on streaming site Volcano, filming real-time videos of himself performing the gutsy skyscraper stunts for his thousands of fans.

Fans could donate money to Wu depending if they liked his stunt and before his death, his thousands of devotees had forked out more than $11,000 for him.

On November 8, the day he climbed to the top of Huayuan International Centre, Wu pressed record on what would be his final livestream.

The video, later clocking 15 million views on Chinese social media site Weibo in a month, featured Wu methodically wiping the building's ledge for more than a minute before he attempts the stunt.

Wu is seen struggling to hold on, grasping the side of the wall as his feet and hands try to find something to hoist his body back up.

In the final seconds of the video, Wu can be seen losing his grip and plunging backwards, dropping out of shot.

According to police, he died from the fall when he landed on a terrace below the ledge. A window cleaner found his body.

Wu's thousands of fans became concerned when he stopped posting on Weibo and Volcano with his girlfriend later confirming he had died from the stunt.

Thirteen months since his death, rooftopping is still a viral trend — and it's one that's still killing people.

Andrey Retrovsky fell to his death after a rope that was supposed to hold him snapped. Photo / Instagram

Andrey Retrovsky fell to his death after a rope that was supposed to hold him snapped. Photo / Instagram

In 2015, Russian teen Andrey Retrovsky was notorious for his risky, high-rise photos when he fell to his death.

The 17-year-old had amassed a following on social media for his rooftop photos but it was exactly that reputation that would kill him.

The International Business Times reported Andrey's last Instagram post showed the rope and harness he wore in his final photo.

In October 2015, Andrey attached a rope to his waist and leant off the side of a nine-storey building to create the illusion he was falling but the rope snapped and he plunged to his death.

Bushes slowed Andrey's fall but he suffered severe internal injuries and died in hospital hours later.

View this post on Instagram

New York tingz

A post shared by Jackson Coe (@jcoe210) on Apr 21, 2018 at 2:12pm PDT

In July, a New Yorker was found dead at the bottom of a six-floor building less than three months after he posted a photo of his legs hanging off the side of a city skyscraper.

Jackson Coe, 25, was lashed by his mum after posting the risky photo in April.

"What the hell are you doing," his mum said.

"Hahaha just on a roof," he replied.

Mr Coe's body was found in the backyard of a six-storey building in New York's West Village on July 4, with injuries consistent with a fall.

Days after his death, Jackson's dad Chip Coe told The Steamboat Pilot his son had been celebrating the Fourth of July holiday with friends and enjoying the New York skyline from the building's roof when it's believed he fell from the fire escape.

Mr Coe said his son's reputation as a risk-taker had triggered nasty internet trolling.

"They did a horrific article about him being a thrillseeker, and his death coming as a result of taking crazy risks," Mr Coe told the publication.

"It triggered a bunch of internet trolling with people saying he got what he deserved."

Two months later, Italian teenager Andrea Barone lost his life after he climbed to the top of a shopping centre in Milan to take an "extreme selfie".

Local media reported the 15-year-old boy and his friends climbed to the highest point of the Sarca e Sesto San Giovanni shopping centre before leaning out to try to take a picture.

Andrea fell more than 40m into a ventilation duct below.

New York City was left with another rooftopper death just before New Year's Eve in 2015 when a 20-year-old man slipped on top of the Four Seasons Hotel.

Connor Cummings and his friend had secretly climbed on to the roof of the 52-storey hotel when he slipped and fell eight metres to his death.

The social media fame that comes with extreme selfies and rooftopping encourages people to take risks.

Afer Wu's death, an editorial from the state-run China Daily blamed the 26-year-old's early demise on the lack of regulation surrounding livestreaming apps.

"Had Wu not been so popular on livestreaming apps, he might not have died ... 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. It is time we ended this," it read.

Wu boasted 60,000 followers on a blog he ran who would regularly tune into his nailbiting rooftopping stunts. These same followers would donate money if they were impressed with the video.

They also made up a portion of the 15 million people who watched Wu's final stunt on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Some of Wu's family told local media he was trying to complete the dangerous stunt for prize money of $20,000.

He had planned to propose to his girlfriend a day after the pull-up stunt and was going to use the money to pay for his wedding and to get his sick mother medical help.

Numerous Chinese media outlets reported the stunt was part of a competition, with the reward being 100,000 yuan as a prize. It's unclear who was sponsoring the competition.

The deaths have done little to stem the terrifying trend.

Russian woman Angela Nikolau has been rooftopping for years — and it's garnered her 540,000 followers.

In 2016, two years before Wu's death, Nikolau and her friend were flown to China by a travel company purely to take dizzying rooftop photos.

She returned to China in November, using a drone to film herself scaling the country's skyscrapers.

Speaking to The Australian in 2016, Nikolau said she's rarely afraid.

"Up high, I enjoy the beauty, a sunset, a streak of smoke," she said. "The strongest emotion is when you come back down and you think, 'I did it. I was up to the challenge.'"

 

ON AIR: Marcus Lush Nights

8p.m. - 11:59p.m.