A first date ended in unimaginable horror Thursday when an ad exec plunged to her death after the railing of her narrow 16th-floor balcony suddenly buckled.
Jennifer Rosoff, 35, brought Stephen Close back to her apartment on E. 57th St. near First Ave. after they chowed down at Maya, a Mexican restaurant about eight blocks away.
They walked through a set of French doors that open to the balcony. Rosoff was smoking a cigarette and had a drink. She sat on the metal railing about 12:45 a.m., which instantly made Close nervous. “He advised her not to sit on the rail,” said Paul Browne, the NYPD’s chief spokesman. “She said that she had done it before and wasn’t worried. She didn’t think it was a problem.”Stephen Close, who was invited to Jennifer Rosoff after their first dinner date, said he warned her not to sit on the railing but Rosoff said she had done it before, police said.Close, who lives nearby, told detectives that he heard “two cracks or pops.” The metal railing at Stonehenge 57 bent, sending her falling backward 140 feet. She landed on construction scaffolding outside the first story of a building in front of the Sofrito restaurant and died instantly. Police questioned Close, who works in real estate, but cops don’t suspect foul play.Jennifer Rosoff was smoking a cigarette when she plunged to her death from her 16th-floor apartment’s balcony. The railing collapsed while she was sitting on it.
Residents heard Close, 35, screaming. And some saw him in the lobby after he emerged from the elevator “He was hysterical,” a resident said of the devastated date.
Rosoff’s sister, Alexis Treeby, 37, was heartbroken when reached at her Pennsylvania home hours after the tragic plunge. Police investigated the death of Rosoff at the site of her death, 400 E. 57 St. “She’s a lovely person,” Treeby said. “Everyone adores her. I really can’t talk right now.”
The Department of Buildings was investigating the accident, city spokeswoman Kelly Magee said. As a precaution, the agency issued a vacate order for all balconies in the building. The corner apartments on the higher floors have balconies.
City law requires all buildings over six floors inspect their exteriors, including balconies, every five years. A licensed expert must issue a report declaring the areas “safe,” “unsafe” or “safe with a repair and maintenance program.”
Magee said the building received its last report in February. She said she couldn’t provide details of the results because of the pending investigation into Rosoff’s fall.
In 2010, Connor Donohue, 24, died after the bars to his balcony at E. 39th St. and First Ave. gave way. Donohue, who mentored inner-city kids, plummeted 24 stories. The Buildings Department ordered a review of balconies across the city months after that fatal fall. The Buildings Department declared 16 off-limits and determined hundreds more weren’t properly inspected.
Rosoff was the director of sales at Triplelift, a digital advertising firm in the Flatiron District.The 16th-floor balcony rail suddenly collapsed while Jennifer Rosoff smoked a cigarette.
“She was a well-loved and highly respected member of our team. Her tremendous energy and humor brought so much joy to the office,” Triplelift CEO Eric Berry said in a statement. “The entire company is distraught by the loss of Ms. Rosoff — she will be deeply missed.”
A graduate of Tulane University in New Orleans, Rosoff also worked stints at The New Yorker, Lucky and Cosmopolitan magazines, according to her LinkedIn page.
Richard Dansereau, managing director of the luxury real estate company Stonehenge Management LLC, released a statement expressing sympathy. Stephen Close said he warned 35-year-old Rosoff about railing before she sat on it.
“This is a tragedy and our sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of Ms. Rosoff,” the statement said. “I am trying to reach out to the family to express these sentiments personally. We are cooperating fully with the investigation into the cause of this terrible accident.”
Stonehenge took over the prewar building a year and a half ago and has made upgrades and raised rents, residents say. A one-bedroom apartment goes for $3,595 per month, according to the company’s website.
“They run a tight ship,” said resident Sara Shubert, who has lived in the building eight years. “There’s been a lot of improvements. They inherited a very old building with lots of problems, pipes and things. I would think they would have done an inspection all around. It’s shocking to hear that the railing would have given way.”
A friend of Shubert’s used to live in the victim’s apartment, so she has seen the balcony. “The balconies are very narrow,” Shubert said. “You can’t fit a chair out there. It’s for standing and smoking and looking at the moon.”
Two employees of Maya, where Rosoff and Close had dined, said they sat at a table in the back of the restaurant, and were not drinking at the bar.
Residents of the luxury building were left reeling over the freak accident that ended the young woman’s life.
“I’m shocked,” said Pearl Harrison, 86. “I can’t believe it. It’s terrible, a young girl like that.”
With Chelsia Rose Marcius and Andy Mai