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Skydiver arrested atop Empire State Building

A man was arrested Thursday when he tried to parachute from the Empire State Building in New York City, authorities said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The host of a cable television show — who passed through security at the Empire State Building wearing a rubber mask and a foam fat suit — was arrested Thursday when he tried to parachute from the skyscraper, authorities said.

J. Ray Corliss IV, a Discovery Channel host from Malibu, Calif., was being charged with assault, reckless endangerment and other offenses, said Police Inspector James McCarthy.

Underneath Corliss’ elaborate costume was a parachute, jumping gear and a helmet, police said. When he got to the 86th floor, he went into a bathroom, took off the fat suit and tried to carry out his stunt — wearing the helmet with a video camera attached.

Building staff had been tipped to the caper, police said. Corliss, 30, climbed over a security fence on the side of the skyscraper, but a guard grabbed his leg before he could jump, they said.

“He was fighting with us to get off,” said building official Timothy Donahue. “He wanted to jump off in the worst way.”

A security guard hit his head on the concrete floor of the observation deck while restraining Corliss and was being examined Thursday night, Donahue said.

McCarthy said Corliss told authorities he had performed similar stunts in the past. Corliss was in custody, and there was no telephone listing for him at the home address provided by police.

Corliss is the host of the Discovery Channel’s “Stunt Junkies,” a show dedicated to extreme sports like skydiving.

The Discovery Channel’s Web site said he is an expert BASE jumper — someone who parachutes from fixed objects — and has jumped off the 1,483-foot Malaysian Petronas Towers and from a 3,000-foot cliff in Norway.

The Empire State Building opened in 1931 and reigned as the city’s tallest building until the World Trade Center was completed in the early 1970s.