7 Dead in NYC Crane Collapse

March 17, 2008
Six construction workers and a visitor in town for the St. Patrick's Day parade were killed when a crane collapsed in New York City the afternoon of March 15, destroying one townhouse and damaging several other buildings.

The crane collapsed at 305 East 50th Street in Manhattan, falling across the street to destroy one building and damage several others. According to media reports, the bodies of four construction workers were pulled from the rubble the day of the collapse, and the other bodies were pulled from the wreckage on March 16 and 17.

Four of the deceased workers were identified as Wayne Bleidner, 51; Brad Cohen, 54; Anthony Mazza, 39; and Aaron Stephens, 45.

Preliminary reports indicate investigators are focusing on whether the crane was properly braced and if the collar that tied the crane to the building’s side was sufficient as neighborhood residents had complained about the crane appearing “dangerously unstable.” The New York Times reported that the “massive piece of steel” intended to secure the crane fell onto another support, which cut the crane free from the building and sent it falling across the street.

Bloomberg: Construction Accident is One of the City’s Worst

In a March 15 news conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters that the incident was “one of the worst the city has had.”

The New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) stated that at least seven buildings were damaged in the collapse, and that the Department of Buildings has evacuated nearly 300 residents from 17 buildings in the vicinity. The collapse also resulted in numerous street closures.

OEM is coordinating the response to the incident and reports that the American Red Cross in Greater New York, the Salvation Army, ConEdison and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit are operating on scene.

Contractor Issues Statement

A statement from the site’s contractor, Reliance Construction Group, indicated that the company subcontracted out the work at the site, and that New York Crane owns the crane.

“We have already launched our own internal investigation to understand exactly what caused this tragedy and we believe it is prudent not to comment further at this time,” the statement read.

Reliance Construction Group added it is “cooperating fully with all government agencies involved.”

Reports indicate that the crane was inspected as recently as March 14 with no recorded violations.

For a list of street closures and damaged and evacuated buildings, see OEM’s statement.

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