Woman charged after climbing, damaging crane in downtown Toronto

Police have charged a 34-year-old woman who climbed and damaged a construction crane in downtown Toronto on Thursday morning, before being rescued by fire department workers.

Police and firefighters negotiated with the woman, who appeared to be topless, for about an hour before she descended.

Emergency services were called to the construction site, near the city's waterfront and the intersection of Dan Leckie Way and Lake Shore Boulevard West, at around 6:30 a.m. ET. 

It took crews about two hours to get the woman — who was 14 storeys up, in the crane operator's compartment — back to the ground. It wasn't immediately clear how long she had been there.

"It did take awhile," said district fire Chief William Bygrave. "At first she wasn't too compliant."​

Mischief charges

Police said she damaged the towering piece of machinery, leaving it inoperable.

"Crews made their way up there," Bygrave said. "They discussed with her what her state of mind was… and if she could comply with their orders to get her down safely."

After making sure the woman could descend without trouble, crews escorted her down the crane's ladder and then down several flights of stairs to a waiting ambulance, Bygrave said.

​She was apprehended by police and taken to a nearby hospital.

Police said Thursday afternoon she will face three charges, including mischief charges and failure to comply with a probation order.

She is scheduled to appear in court on Friday. 

'She was in a lot of danger'

The crane is atop a nine-storey building under construction near Toronto's harbour. 

Bygrave said it appeared the woman climbed up to the cab sometime overnight, when there is no security at the site.

She did not have a harness or any safety gear when firefighters made contact with her.

"She was in a lot of danger," he said.

The woman would have had to climb stairs to the top of the building before scaling the ladder to the control booth, according to Ian Peters, who is part of the fire department's emergency response team.

"We don't know for sure how she got on the construction site, but she managed to find her way up there," said Peters, who was at the base of the crane as she climbed down.

EllisDon Corp., which operates the construction site, said it is trying to find out how and when the woman entered the fenced-off site.

"We are currently investigating security footage to get a better understanding of how the individual entered the site," said a company spokesperson.

"We are relieved the individual and rescue personnel are all safe, and cannot reinforce enough that this type of act is extremely dangerous, and should never be attempted," the statement continued.

Toronto police closed two lanes of the nearby Gardiner Expressway during the rescue; they've since reopened.

"The crane boom actually hangs over, partially, onto the Gardiner Expressway, so there was some concern for her safety," said Acting Staff Sgt. Sean Cassidy of the Toronto police.

It's the second such incident in 16 months in Toronto. In April 2017, a 23-year-old woman was rescued, and in January was granted an absolute discharge after pleading guilty to two mischief counts.