Falling Light Fixture from Atlantic City Casino Narrowly Misses Woman

June 13, 2008

Billboards put up around the Atlantic City by the Tropicana Casino and Resort proclaim “It’s Loose on the Roof.” But they probably didn’t have this in mind.

The slogan refers to frequent slot machine payouts in an area called Rooftop Slots. But an incident Wednesday afternoon might give it new meaning.

A 10-foot-long lighting fixture broke loose from the side of a building containing a parking garage as well as shops and restaurants, and plummeted several hundred feet to the street, narrowly missing the woman underneath.

The fixture fell from just below the roof of the 28-story building and crashed in the middle of the adjacent street. Another piece dangled in the wind, prompting police to cordon the area off and temporarily prevent about a dozen cars from leaving the garage.

An Associated Press reporter who had just left the casino witnessed the incident.

“I heard a noise and saw shattering all around me and I just ran,” said the woman, who had to dodge debris including small wires and pieces of plastic.

The woman and her husband, who live in Bucks County, Pa., spoke only on the condition that they not be named. Her husband said they were guests of the hotel and he frequently does business with it.

He said if anyone had been driving by at that moment, they could have been killed.

“That was one lucky lady,” said city resident Raymond Larry, who passed by shortly afterward. “God was with her today.”

Tropicana spokeswoman Diane Spiers said no work was being done on the building at the time, and that the fixture simply gave way and fell off. Repair crews immediately began working on a second piece that was left dangling, and an investigation was started into how it happened.

“We’re just very thankful that no one was hurt,” she said.

It was the latest in a series of troubles that has befallen the Tropicana in recent years.

In 2003, a parking garage under construction collapsed, killing four workers and injuring 36 others.

In April, several people were hurt when an overcrowded elevator at the Tropicana quickly descended and came to a sudden stop.

About two weeks ago, a crane carrying two window washers cleaning the side of the building toppled over, forcing firefighters to engage in an aerial rescue using ropes lowered from the top of the building.

In December, the state stripped the Tropicana’s former owners of their casino license, citing poor performance regarding cleanliness, service and compliance with state regulations. The property, which includes New Jersey’s largest hotel at 2,129 rooms, is now for sale.

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