The Vessel at Hudson Yards is once again closed after the body of a 14-year old boy was found at the base of the structure at lunchtime today. The Community Board has immediately called for the height of the barriers to be raised — or that the structure remains permanently closed.
The death comes just two months after the west side tourist attraction reopened, with new measures put in place by Related Properties (owner of Hudson Yards) to prevent further loss of life at the controversial Thomas Heatherwick-designed structure.
NYPD said that the teenager was at The Vessel with his family — including his parents, sister, and grandmother — when he appeared to jump from the eighth floor of the 150-foot-tall structure just before 1pm today. The name of the boy has not been released. He was in the city visiting from New Jersey and was pronounced dead at the scene.
“We are heartbroken by this tragedy, and our thoughts are with the family of the young person who lost their life,” said Kimberly Winston, a spokesperson for Hudson Yards, in an emailed statement. “We are conducting a full investigation. The Vessel is currently closed.”
The boy is the fourth person to die at the Vessel since it opened two years ago.
Lowell Kern, the Chair of Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4), said this afternoon: “Unfortunately this is inevitable, given the approach that Related took in not raising the height of the barriers. The Community Board calls on Related to raise the height of the barriers, or leave The Vessel permanently closed.”
In May, Related Properties delivered a new plan to MCB4 that included:
- All tickets for visits to be bought online beforehand
- Tripling the security staff, extra training and new protocols
- Partnering with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation on a “Please Stay” initiative
- Only groups of 2 or more allowed to book/visit
The Community Board responded then that the reopening of The Vessel would lead to more fatalities. “Related made a $120 million mistake, resulting in three deaths. They’ve hired a bunch of fancy consultants to give a whole bunch of window dressing. What’s that going to stop?” said Joe Restuccia, a MCB4 board member. “The only thing that will stop this is barriers. No ifs, ands, or buts.”
UPDATE: 6:36pm. The New York Times reported this evening that in a statement, an employee of Heatherwick Studio, the architecture studio that designed the Vessel, expressed frustration with the developers’ resistance to higher barriers.
“We designed safety barriers for the Vessel a while back,” said the employee, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “It’s now time to install these.”
UPDATE: 10:56pm. Stephen Ross, the billionaire behind Hudson Yards, told The Daily Beast that the development’s marquee art installation might close for good following the latest suicide at the structure.
“We thought we did everything that would really prevent this,” Ross aid. “It’s hard to really fathom how something like that could happen. But you know, I feel terrible for the family.”
We will further update this story with more information as it comes in.
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.