HOUSTON — A man who scaled halfway up one of Houston’s best-known skyscrapers using only a small pick jumped about 30 stories to his death Monday morning, authorities said.

Ryan John Hartley, 20, was about halfway up the 64-story Williams Tower when he leaped at about 7:45 a.m., Houston Fire Department spokesman Jay Evans said.

Police recovered a driver’s license and a note containing a message of a political nature. Authorities have declined to reveal details of the note, other than to say it did not mention plans to jump.

News2Houston reported that there were three notes discovered on Hartley, which spoke of religion, politics and specific problems with Iraq.

The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a suicide Monday.

Some Houstonians, who watched reports of the incident on television, said Tuesday that they were shocked and wondered why Hartley did what he did.

“It was public suicide,” Houstonian Charles Simmons said. “Anytime that you have someone killing (themselves) in public that’s obviously going to cause a stir. He obviously got out of it what he was looking to get out of it.”

Hartley attended the University of Houston, having transferred from the University of Texas this fall semester, said Michael Cinelli, a spokesman for the Houston school.

Hartley had rosin to apply to his hands, and used the pick on the window molding as he moved higher, authorities said. But he apparently did not have a harness, belt or suction cup, “the normal professional equipment you’d normally see on someone trying to climb a building,” Evans said.

Police received the first call about Hartley at 6:53 a.m. Monday. Evans said Hartley had somehow reached the outside of the building from the 10th floor and then climbed up the southwest corner from there.

Rescue personnel and a crowd of onlookers had gathered below, television helicopters hovered above and motorists from the West Loop freeway, the busiest in Texas, all had a view of the black-clad Hartley as he climbed and fell.

Chris Seay, pastor of Hartley’s church, Ecclesia of Houston, released a statement from the family.

“Ryan was an accomplished rock climber and instructor as well as a gifted vocalist and student at U of H,” the statement said. “He was seeing a psychologist for an undiagnosed mental disorder. The family is grieving and thankful for your thoughts and prayers.”

Police tried to talk to Hartley from an open window but he continued to ascend. Witness Pat McGarey, a tower worker, said Hartley was yelling or singing and periodically waved his hands before taking an extended pause.

“It clearly looked like he jumped as opposed to falling,” McGarey said.

The art deco-inspired skyscraper, formerly known as the Transco Tower, was built in 1983 and is known for the floodlight beacon at its top. It was designed by architect Philip Johnson.


Oh man, what injustice. I can picture it now:

VANCOUVER – ArdArvin, an accomplished rock climber, jumped 30 stories to his death early this morning. Local authorities ruled the death a suicide.

ArdArvin scaled a little more than halfway up the 45 story One Wall Centre, before leaping to his death,” says VPD spokesperson Anne Drennen.

No suicide note was found, although upon searching the man’s apartment, various emails of political nature were found. In one email, ArdArvin claims that the war in Iraq was unwarranted.

Ardarvin wore climbing shoes, had rosin to apply to his hands, and used a camming device for resting. However, lacking a suction cup, he was not using the normal professional equipment one normally uses when trying to climb a building.

Before falling, onlookers observed ArdArvin yelling or possibly singing loudly, shaking violently, and taking an extended pause. “Truly bizarre behavior,” says Drennen. He then jumped.

Ardarvin was not diagnosed with any mental disorder, however friends claimed his behaviour was “not normal. I mean, look at what he did for fun. He played video games and listened to rap music.”

This makes me sick. I wasn’t there, so I can’t say for certain what happened, but reading this article raises significant doubts on the validity of the suicide ruling.

Who plans to commit suicide, but brings chalk, climbing shoes, and an aid hook for resting? The only evidence of suicide is an eye witness account that claims he jumped. Well here’s a quote from another newspaper, “‘He didn’t have (any) energy left it looked like,’ witness Pat Osborne said. ‘He looked to the left and looked to the right and just pushed off.'”
I’m guessing he ran out of steam, realized all hope was gone, and then either let go or pushed off. “He obviously got out of it what he was looking to get out of it.” — Charles Simmons, you’re a dick. Show a little respect.

Here was a 20 yr old kid enjoying life more fully than most of us ever will. Perhaps his “undiagnosed mental disorder” was a taste for adrenaline?