"Shattering" experience on Willis Tower sky-deck

Published 05/29 2014 05:40PM

Updated 05/30 2014 05:39PM

Update: 1:30 pm, 5/30/14, Friday
CHICAGO -- It was business as usual Friday at the Willis Tower. Its observation deck reopened after the glass cracked on it earlier this week. George Howell talked with people sitting in it right before it happened. 103 stories above the ground.

"All I see is just glass that's breaking underneath me. I hear it. I feel it."

Four cousins, posed together for a picture on a glass observation deck overlooking Chicago. The second they stood up...

"I could feel the glass shattering around my hand."

They looked back to see the surface they'd been sitting on shattered.

"I was thinking I was going down with it."

"You can hear the cracking! That is freakin' crazy!"

They also got video of the glass. They feared the ledge was about to fall to the ground.

"Because you can see through it, obviously there's the psychological effect that, 'Oh my gosh, something broke.' But, nobody was ever in danger."

Architectural engineer Michael Swanberg says there's a thick panel of glass which didn't break; designed to withstand 10,000 pounds, or five tons, of weight. Crews replaced the thick layer above the glass which caused such a scare.

"So, this is the new sheet of glass that will go on the sky-deck. If you look here, you can see exactly how thin that is. Crews tell me this is meant to be scratched and scraped up. In fact, it's replaced every six-to-nine months, depending on wear and tear."

From outside, at a helicopter's vantage point, you can see how the observation ledge extends just beyond the Willis Tower. With the new glass panel finally in place, we put it to the test.

"So, we are stepping onto that thin sheet of glass now?"

"That's correct. The quarter-inch thick piece of glass is designed to protect the one-and-a-half inch structural glass."

The ledge on the sky-deck, now back in business. Even these guys admit, after the scare of their lives...

"For the record, it's an awesome view. It's an awesome building."

It's the view from up top which made such an impression on them that they may just come back up for more.
Original: 5:40 pm, 5/29/14, Thursday
CHICAGO -- A family visiting the sky-deck of Willis Tower got quite the scare. They stepped onto the ledge more than 1,300 feet above ground and look what happened! It cracked beneath them!

They jumped to safety as quickly as possible. A spokesperson with Willis Tower says the glass deck didn't crack. It was actually a protective coating on the glass which shattered.

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