Frenchman hung up on Lady Liberty

August 23, 2001

NEW YORK (CNN) — Thierry Devaux turned in his passport to federal prosecutors on Friday, a condition of his bail, one day after he was arrested for parasailing into the Statue of Liberty.Devaux, a 41-year-old French citizen who prefers to be called by his stage name « Terry Do, » told reporters he had intended to bungee jump three times after landing on the statue’s torch.

A sudden strong wind, Devaux said, spoiled the attempt.

« I arrived on the torch too fast and I slide on the right side of the torch. I was exactly at the right level I wanted to be, at exactly at the right direction. But I arrived too fast, » Devaux said.

His options were to carry on flying past the monument in his « paramotor » — an engine strapped to a parasail — or to get caught in the torch’s flame, which is what happened. He apparently took off from a building in New Jersey about 1.5 miles from the statue.

« I was suspended, and everybody was of course a bit scared for me, » Devaux said. « Honestly, I wasn’t afraid. »

After Devaux waited for half an hour on the the statue’s raised arm, policemen pulled him to safety.

Devaux, who says he has bungee jumped at many landmarks — the Eiffel Tower (six times), the Brooklyn Bridge (eight times), the Golden Gate Bridge, at the Albertville Olympic games — said Lady Liberty has a special appeal.

« The statue, it’s the greatest symbol of America. I love America, » Devaux said. « The island, the bay, and Manhattan behind — it’s a fantastic place. »

Devaux dangles from the statue’s torch.
New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani called Devaux an « idiot » for endangering the lives of tourists and of police who had to rescue him.

« The mayor doesn’t like the artistic way, the artistic development like I am used to doing, » Devaux said. « Maybe we don’t think the same about this. »

Defense attorney Jeremy Orden, who calls Devaux an « acrobat who performs on the bungee cord, » said the intended jump was a « form of artistic expression. »

Devaux told one New York police officer that he « wanted to land on the torch for pleasure, » according to the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

Devaux faces a maximum of 12 months in jail for four federal misdemeanors: unlawfully traversing a monument, unlawful use of an airborne device, trespassing, and creating a hazardous condition.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis released Devaux on $10,000 bail Thursday. Orden told the judge he would personally fork over the required $2,000 in cash or vouch for the bond. Ellis ordered Devaux not to leave New York City while the case is pending.

« Like everybody, I don’t want to be in jail, » Devaux said.

Devaux, from the town of Annecy, near France’s border with Switzerland, said he is married with two daughters. A former ski patrolman, he now works on special high-rise construction projects, often without scaffolding, suspended from ropes.

Devaux said he had studied bungee jumping from the statue for eight years and came to New York in July to fulfill his vision. But he said there would be no future attempt.

« I don’t want to do it again, » Devaux said. « It was the last time. »

By Phil Hirschkorn