Media reports indicated that the crane's operator appeared to have been in the cab when the rig fell. OccupationalHazards.com contacted the New York City Fire Department May 30. An FDNY spokesperson confirmed that a deceased individual and two others that were critically injured are construction workers.
Initial reports indicated that one worker died and two were critically injured. One of the injured, Ramadan Kurtaj, 27, was taken to a hospital but later died. According to the Associated Press, the other deceased worker was Donald Leo, 30, the crane operator. A third worker, Simeon Alexis, 32, was critically injured.
Earlier in the day, New York City Mayor MichaelBloomberg, during his weekly radio show, called the incident “unacceptable” and said the city will release all records of any complaints or "stop work" orders relating to the crane and construction work.
Witnesses, according to media reports, said the cab and the arm of the crane crashed more than 20 stories to the ground, smashing the penthouse on a building across the street and gouging chunks out of balconies all the way to the ground.
This is the second fatal crane collapse that occurred in the past 12 weeks. On March 15, contractors building a 46-story condominium near the United Nations were trying to lengthen the crane when a steel support broke. The crane crashed down, demolishing a four-story town house and several other buildings.
That incident led to the arrest of buildings inspector Edward Marquette, who was charged with falsifying a record to show he visited the Manhattan construction site.
New York isn’t the only city plagued with construction-related deaths. On May 23, a crane collapsed at a construction site near a Kansas City Power & Light power plant, killing one worker and injuring three others. And on March 25, a 20-foot section of a crane fell 30 stories in Miami, killing two construction workers and injuring five others.
Because of the recent surge of construction-related deaths, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., chairman of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee, said she plans to hold a hearing to review construction safety standards and OSHA's effectiveness in overseeing them.