UN Diplomat Dies in Alleged Trust Game Gone Wrong

Australia's Julian Simpson fell from Manhattan balcony Wednesday
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2017 10:35 AM CST
UN Diplomat Dies in Alleged Trust Game Gone Wrong
The Empire State Building is seen lit in burgundy and white in this June 27, 2017, photo.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

"Let's play the trust game" and "I will prove that you can trust me," Australia's second secretary to the United Nations reportedly told his friend as he leaned back over a railing, some 70 feet above a Manhattan street. The words were among the last he would speak. As 30-year-old Julian Simpson grabbed the arm of his friend James Waugh, with whom he'd had a minor dispute after a night of drinking, Simpson lost his grip and toppled from the seventh-floor terrace, hitting a second-story landing below, report the New York Post and New York Daily News, citing unnamed police sources. The diplomat was pronounced dead early Wednesday in what Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calls "a shocking tragedy" and what police say was an accident.

Simpson and Waugh were reportedly among a group to venture to the rooftop of Simpson's 19-story apartment building to see the Empire State Building lit in honor of Australia's vote supporting gay marriage legislation. At one point, Simpson twirled Waugh's wife, scaring her, leading Waugh to question Simpson later on the diplomat's seventh-floor terrace, the Daily News reports. Though police would only confirm to Reuters that Simpson "liked to play games and had sat on the balcony railing and accidentally lost his balance," local media report that his death was the result of a trust game gone wrong. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop tells Sky News, via ABC Australia, that she's "deeply saddened" by the incident, calling Simpson a "clever young man" with "a bright future ahead of him." (More New York City stories.)

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