A WINDOW cleaner fell eight storeys to his death in a bizarre incident in Marine Drive, Port Elizabeth, yesterday.
Crystal Window Cleaners employee Rowan Hiles, 31, fell shortly before he was to abseil down the side of the beachfront Town Lodge to replace the broken light of a signboard – something he was adept at doing in the course of his work.
In a tragic sequence of events Hiles – who was standing on a ledge on the roof of the eight-storey building – unclipped his safety harness, handed his cellphone to a colleague and tipped over backwards, plunging to his death.
Crystal Window Cleaners owner Mark van den Berg said he had been told by Hiles's colleagues that "he took a phone call, handed his cellphone to a colleague while standing on the ledge and removed his harness.
"He then went off the ledge. I also spoke to his brother who said he had been 'acting strange'," Van den Berg said.
He said Hiles's colleagues were distraught.
"They are all taking it hard and are very shaken by the incident," he said.
Police said they could not rule out the possibility of suicide until the investigation had been concluded.
Captain Stanley Jarvis said no one knew why Hiles had taken off his harness.
Co-workers who witnessed the tragedy were treated for shock at the scene. One described him as an experienced abseiler and a "very nice guy".