UPDATED Thursday July 29, 2021 at 7:22 p.m.: The Vessel is closed again after a 14-year-old boy jumped to his death from the eighth level of the 16-story structure Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department said.
Witnesses saw the boy jump from the Hudson Yards’ landmark and authorities said his injuries were consistent with a fall.
Related Companies, which owns and operates the Vessel, has closed the structure and is conducting an investigation, said Kimberly Winston, a spokesperson for Hudson Yards.
It marks the fourth time someone has died after jumping from the Vessel and comes after Related closed the structure for several months starting in January after a 24-year-old woman and 21-year-old man leapt to their deaths within weeks of each other.
“We are heartbroken by this tragedy and our thoughts are with the family of the young person who lost their life,” Winston said in a statement.
Steps from the complex’s luxury shopping center, the public attraction at the center of Hudson Yards opened in 2019. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the Vessel is made of interlocking stairways with waist-high railings where visitors chart their own path up the 150-foot structure while taking in views of the Hudson River and surrounding glassy skyscrapers.
In May, the developer announced it was reopening the Vessel with new policies intended to reduce the risk of suicides. Preventative actions taken by Related included adding additional specially-trained security staff, charging $10 for tickets to enter, posting new signage discouraging self-harm and refusing to allow access to lone visitors — instead, visitors were required to come in groups of two or more.
A police source said the boy who died Thursday had been at the Vessel with four family members.
The developer’s changes did not include installing higher physical barriers throughout the structure, despite the urging of Community Board 4, whose district covers Hudson Yards.
The board had been imploring Related to install higher barriers for more than a year, starting in February 2020 when the first death at the Vessel occurred, according to the New York Times. In May, as the Vessel reopened, a Related spokesperson told the Times it believed the new policies would make the structure safer while maintaining Heatherwick’s design.
“We thought we did everything that would really prevent this,” Related chairman Stephen Ross told the Daily Beast on Thursday. “It’s hard to really fathom how something like that could happen. But you know, I feel terrible for the family.”
Related did not respond to questions about whether it would consider raising barriers at the Vessel.
Lowell Kern, CB4’s chairperson, called Ross’s comments dishonest in an interview Thursday.
“To say that they did everything possible when they have letters from the community board saying ‘raise the barriers’ is just disingenuous,” he said. “Unfortunately because they didn’t, what happened today was inevitable.”
Kern said CB4, which is a strictly advisory body, is reaching out to city and state officials to ask for help to get Related to either raise the safety barriers or keep the Vessel permanently closed.
This story was updated to include comments from Lowell Kern.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ for 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources.