Los Angeles skyscraper fall being investigated as suicide

Authorities are investigating whether an electrician intentionally leaped to his death from the 53rd floor of Los Angeles’ tallest skyscraper onto an intersection humming with a normal weekday’s bustle, the coroner said Friday.

Joseph Sabbatino, 36, of Palmdale plunged some 800 feet from the unfinished Wilshire Grand Center on Thursday. It was his second day on the job.

Sabbatino’s father, Vance Sabbatino, told KABC-TV that his son struggled with depression and had been prescribed medication.

His death was reported as a possible suicide but no note has been found, said Ed Winter, Los Angeles County’s assistant chief coroner.

Sabbatino’s body landed either near or on the rear of a passing car but the driver wasn’t injured.

It took some time for people below to realize the horror of what had happened, said Los Angeles Times photographer Mel Melcon, who was on assignment at the building.

“No one thought it was a body,” Melcon told his paper. “We heard no screams.”

Sabbatino had taken off his hard hat and had not been wearing a safety harness because it wasn’t required for the bottom floors he’d been working on, said Lisa Gritzner, spokeswoman for Turner Construction.

The 53rd level had a barricade to prevent falls, and the company issued a statement that said the incident “was not work-related.”

Work was shut down Friday and counselors would be on hand for employees, the statement said.

Sabbatino, who was married, worked as a real estate agent for Re/Max All-Pro in the Antelope Valley until December. In his online company profile, Sabbatino wrote that he moved to the desert area in 1999 and learned electrical and other construction skills to enhance his real estate career.

It was the first major accident in three years of work on the downtown tower, which will top out at 73 stories or about 1,100 feet, making it the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast.

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