Woman critical after four-storey fall

A woman who witnessed a teenage window cleaner plummet four storeys in Auckland this afternoon is struggling to come to terms with what she saw.

The 18-year-old was abseiling on the side of a Lion Breweries building on Carlton Gore Rd, Newmarket, when something went wrong at about 2.30pm.

A woman who works at The Diners Club across the road, who wanted to be referred to only as Theresa, was looking out the window when she saw the victim fall.

"All of a sudden I heard my colleague say `oh my God' and then I spun around and ... I saw her fall and heard her hit the ground.

"It really was surreal. All I thought was 'that is a really bad fall, oh my God'.''

Police said the 18-year-old had fallen about 30 metres.

Theresa dashed over to the scene to try to help, along with workers from the brewery.

The teenager was fully harnessed and had a helmet on.

"She was unconscious but we knew she was alive. I was really relieved to find that she hadn't died because it was a shocking height,'' Theresa said.

Everyone was careful not to move her for fear they would exacerbate her injuries as they tried to stem the bleeding and waited for an ambulance to arrive.

"They all stayed calm and we were able to articulate through to emergency services. They were all amazing. There was eventually a huge team from Lion there helping out.''

The girl was taken to Auckland Hospital where she remained in a critical condition.

"I'm just feeling really shaken and I'm just really worried about her. I really hope she's alright and I'm really feeling for her family,'' Theresa said.

"After having witnessed that, I'm horrified.''

Lion external relations director Liz Read said the incident was "incredibly disturbing'' for everyone at the scene.

"It was incredibly shocking and we just can't believe that the woman has survived the fall. It's just devastating.

"We're just focusing on supporting our workers now, and we're obviously very keen to know about her condition as well.''

Ms Read said Lion did not own the building but leased it from another company, which had hired the window cleaner.

The Department of Labour is investigating.

One witness, who did not wish to be identified, said it appeared a metal anchor at the top of the building, which the girl's rope was attached to, had broken.

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