An incredibly agile Chinese social media star and fearless “rooftopper” plunged to his death from the top of a 62-story high-rise in the city of Changsha, police confirmed to Chinese media. He captured his fatal fall on a video camera he had set up.
Wu Yongning, 26, was doing pull-ups at the top of the Huayuan Hua Center when he seemed to lose strength, then his grip, and fell, as shown in a video which has gone viral. (The video above does not show his fall.)
The accident apparently occurred last month, although it wasn’t until a week ago that Wu’s girlfriend posted a notice on social media about his death, according to a Washington Post report linked to the Chinese-language site Sina.com. Authorities are calling it an accident, saying that Wu fell 45 feet onto a terrace; they have ruled out sabotage, according to The Sun.
Wu had amassed a million followers on the Chinese social media platform Weibo while posting death-defying videos of himself in precarious positions at the top of very tall buildings without any safety equipment. By the time of his death, he had videotaped about 300 stunts. Some of the videos are available here.
Wu suddenly disappeared from Weibo in early November, and his girlfriend later confirmed that he had died in a fall. He plunged from the Changsha building in Hunan province while participating in a contest to win $15,000, according to Chinese media, which offered no further information about the competition.
Wu, from Ningxiang in Hunan, planned to propose to his girlfriend the day after the contest, a family member told the South China Morning Post. He also reportedly hoped to use his expected winnings to help his ill mother.
Wu, who had martial arts training, had worked as a movie extra. He left the job to focus full time on rooftopping, and often appeared in social media advertisements.
Wu was careful to warn people in each one of his videos not to try to imitate his stunts.
Rooftopping’s growing popularity has made the emerging “sport” lucrative in recent years, the Guardian reports. Urban explorers, many with a robust social media presence, summit the city in search of vertigo-inducing viral photos and videos.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated incorrectly that Wu fell 62 stories; rather, authorities believe he fell 45 feet onto a terrace, not the full height of the building.