Would You Jump 50 Feet For $50?

Would you jump down from the second to the first floor in a crowded shopping mall for $50? Nicholas Diblasi of Park Ridge, New Jersey did. And he landed…in the hospital. And now he faces criminal charges.

Twenty-one year old Diblasi and a friend were at the upscale Palisades Center in West Nyack, New York just after midday on February 8th, when his friend dared him to jump for $50. Diblasi and the other young man had been drinking beers prior to the reckless stunt. After his leap, Diblasi was found on the floor, dazed but conscious. He suffered injuries, including one to his left leg, and he also faces second-degree reckless endangerment charges. Police have not indicated whether they will also charge the friend who made the dare.

Image from Wikimediacommons
Image from Wikimediacommons

This is not the first time the Palisades Center Mall has been in the news recently for negative reasons. In October 2014 a special-needs man lost his balance on an escalator during an outing with his group home, and fell backward over the handrail. He fell three stories and died.

Three men were arrested after running amok in this mall on Black Friday, punching and shoving customers and yelling out “dirty Jew” when assaulting Orthodox Jews. Chris Bujaj, Florend Gjuvuka and Ardian Mehal, aged 17 and 18 years old, received assault and hate-crime charges for their melee.

This sprawling mall, which opened in 1998, has seen suicide cases involving jumping. In 2000, 2005 and 2012 and on other occasions, people have jumped to their deaths here.

Suburban malls have their share of problems, as we see here. People do come to malls to commit crimes and sometimes to kill themselves. Safety is a factor and many of these huge shopping centers are difficult to monitor fully.

Having been to this same mall on a number of occasions, I was always more concerned about pickpockets or slipping on a spilled drink at a birthday party at the Lucky Strike Bowling Center. Perhaps I should have worn my helmet and paid more attention to things falling from above?

Ellen Levitt is the author of The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn (2009), The Lost Synagogues of the Bronx and Queens (2011) and The Lost Synagogues of Manhattan (2013), all published by Avotaynu. She is a lifelong New Yorker, a veteran public school teacher, writer and photographer. Bird lover as well.