Diplomat falls to death in New York

An Australian diplomat has accidentally fallen to his death from the deck of his New York City home during a social gathering with his wife and friends, police and local media say.

Julian Simpson (30) plummeted from a seventh-floor balcony to a second-floor landing shortly after 1am on Wednesday (local time).

Simpson was living at the 19-story apartment building in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York Police Department spokesman Martin Brown said.

"He's described as somebody who liked to play games and had sat on the balcony railing and accidentally lost his balance," Brown said.

The view of the Empire State Building. Photo: Getty Images
The view of the Empire State Building. Photo: Getty Images

Simpson, a junior diplomat with the Australian Mission to the United Nations, was said to have been playing a "trust game" with an unidentified male house guest, according to the New York Post, citing unidentified police sources.

The envoy instructed the man to catch him as he sat on the railing of the balcony and leaned back to prove that he could trust him, the local newspaper reported.

But Brown said media reports of a trust game, where a person deliberately falls back and relies on another to catch them, have not been confirmed.

The police spokesman added that a toxicology report would determine whether Simpson was under the influence of alcohol at the time of his death.

Simpson had been out with his wife and friends before they returned home to admire the view of the Empire State Building, which was lit up in rainbow colours to celebrate Australia's gay marriage vote.

He was rushed to the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

"It is a tragedy and hearts go out to his family," Australian Prime Miniser Malcolm Turnbull told the Seven Network this morning.

"It is a shocking tragedy. A young life lost."

A representative for the Permanent Mission of Australia to the UN and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The investigation is ongoing, police said.

- Reuters and AAP

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