“[When] a window-washing platform gave way last Friday, two brothers preparing to clean the black-glass skin of an apartment building on the Upper East Side fell 47 floors. Why did one die and the other survive, though he is grievously injured?

“Five days later, the answer can still be only guessed at. Officials and window-washing colleagues of the two brothers speculated that they tried to ride their platform to the ground, as one window washer said he had been trained to do in such an accident.

“If so, they were relying on basic physics — the platform would have generated some small amount of wind resistance, slowing the fall — and luck.

“Fortune, if there is any to be found, was with the brother who survived, Alcides Moreno, 37. He was conscious and sitting up soon after firefighters arrived.

“He was on top of what was left of the platform that they were working on,” said one official who was at the scene.

“The brother who was killed, Edgar Moreno, 30, may have been thrown off the platform as it hurtled toward the ground. The official, who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the investigation, said part of his body was under the platform.

“It was a distinctly urban kind of tragedy, one that brought to mind a distinctly different kind of accident — long-distance falls by military pilots or sky divers whose parachutes failed to open, and who survived.” — from an actual 12.12.07 N.Y. Times story by James Barron and Al Baker.