Last month a crane collapsed at a construction site in Queens, injuring seven construction workers. According to USA Today, the injuries were serious but not life threatening. New York’s Deputy Fire Chief Mark Ferran said that the worst injuries consisted of broken bones, and that emergency services technicians did not require any special equipment or heavy machinery to remove the injured workers from the site of the crash.
The accident occurred in the afternoon at a complex of Queens West luxury residential towers in Long Island City, just behind the iconic neon “Pepsi Cola” sign overlooking the East River. The Huffington Post reported that construction workers first heard popping cables, followed by the snapping of metal as the red crane came crashing down. Russell Robinson, one of the workers on the scene, heard other guys yelling, “run, run!” Preston White, a carpenter from the Bronx, “saw the cable whipping toward the deck,” and the impact from the buckling crane caused White’s scaffolding to shake. The crane, which stood at around 200 feet, crashed through an unfinished building framework. White described the crane cutting down the framework “like a hot knife in butter.”
What Caused the Accident and Who is Responsible?
Just after the accident, city officials began investigating the cause of the accident. Although the specific cause is not yet known, Tony Sclafani, a spokesperson for New York’s Department of Building, reported that his engineers were in the process of investigating. He confirmed that the collapse occurred at the site of a luxury apartment complex under contract by TF Cornerstone. Cornerstone, the residential and commercial real estate developer and property management group, was cooperating with the Department of Building to determine the cause of the mobile crane collapse.
An article in The New York Times reported that Cross Country Construction, a subcontractor, had been carrying out the work for Cornerstone, but the mobile crane actually belongs to New York Crane and Equipment Corporation, one of the largest crane operators in New York City. The crane was built back in 1992, but the Department of Building approved it for use last October. Notably, the crane that collapsed in Queens is “nearly the same make and model” as the crane that collapsed at a Number 7 subway station last April. After an investigation into that April 2012 collapse, federal investigators reported that the accident occurred because the crane’s hoist wire “was worn out.”
James F. Lomma, the owner of New York Crane and Equipment Corporation, was recently acquitted of criminally negligent homicide charges related to the crane collapse that killed two workers on New York’s Upper East Side. An employee at New York Crane declined questions from the New York Daily News about the recent crash in Queens, and TF Cornerstone indicated that it was “unaware that Cross Country had leased the equipment from New York Crane.”
Accidents involving construction cranes have been causing more worries than usual in New York, given the recent collapses in months and years past. The Huffington Post indicated that such crashes led to new safety measures in New York, as well as the resignation of the city’s buildings commissioner.
Have you been injured at a construction site? Contact a licensed attorney today to determine if you have a claim.