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Wind blows Washington Monument engineer 30 feet

By Greg Clary, CNN
updated 11:06 PM EDT, Sat October 1, 2011
The Washington Monument is reopening after a 2011 earthquake caused $15 million in damage. Cutting the ribbon Monday, May 12, were, from left, National Mall and Memorial Parks Superintendent Robert Vogel; Caroline Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall; David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of the Carlyle Group; National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis; U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell; counselor to President Obama John Podesta; Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.; and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (with unidentified man). The Washington Monument is reopening after a 2011 earthquake caused $15 million in damage. Cutting the ribbon Monday, May 12, were, from left, National Mall and Memorial Parks Superintendent Robert Vogel; Caroline Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall; David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of the Carlyle Group; National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis; U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell; counselor to President Obama John Podesta; Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.; and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (with unidentified man).
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Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
Repairing the Washington Monument
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Work on monument suspended Saturday, may resume Sunday
  • Worker is unhurt
  • Company is assessing damage from August earthquake

Washington (CNN) -- The National Park Service suspended assessment work of the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument Saturday, a day after wind blew one of the workers 30 feet away from the monument.

Climber Erik Sohn was unhurt and the Difficult Access Team from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates (WJE) hopes to resume work on the monument Sunday.

In a statement, the National Park Police said as the engineering team was finishing Friday, the wind lifted Sohn up and pushed him from the west face of the monument over to the south face.

"This is not unusual in these kinds of operations," Dan Lemieux, project manager from WJE, said in a statement. "Our guys are trained to deal with this kind of event. Erik's fine, and I think he even kind of enjoyed the ride."

The team is assessing the exterior of the monument following damage from an August 23 earthquake that shook much of the East Coast.

"The heaviest damage appears to be concentrated at the very top of the monument, in what is called the pyramidion, where large cracks of up to 1 1/4 inch wide developed through stone and mortar joints," said Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. Rainwater has leaked into the monument through the cracks and that could cause further damage.

The Park Service said an interior assessment of the monument found it to be structurally sound and there is no danger of collapse.

The team has mainly focused on the top of the monument but will eventually rappel down the sides for a full inspection. The Park Service officials say they hope the assessment is completed by October 14, at which point they will have a better idea when the monument can be reopened to the public.

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