CraneAccident 8thLd-Writethru 03-17 Web

Body of last crane victim found

The last of seven bodies was pulled from the rubble Monday at the site of a crane collapse that obliterated a town house and severely damaged other buildings.

Six construction workers and a woman in town for St. Patrick’s Day were killed Saturday when the crane broke away from an apartment tower under construction and toppled like a tree onto buildings as far as a block away. The last three bodies were found Monday.

A preliminary city investigation found that the crane toppled after a steel collar used to tie it to the side of the building fell as workers attempted to install it.

When the equipment fell it damaged a lower steel collar that was a major anchor securing the tower crane. Investigators say that with the elimination of the lower support the counter-weights at the top of the crane’s tower caused it to fall.


The crane, which rose 19 stories, came crashing down on a Manhattan neighborhood a few blocks from the United Nations on the city’s east side.

All the dead were construction workers except for a woman who was in the four-story town house that was demolished when the crane fell on it.

The woman had come from Miami to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and to visit a friend who lived in the town house, said John LaGreco, owner of Fubar, a saloon on the ground floor of the town house. The woman was in her friend’s second-floor apartment at the time of the accident, he said. Her friend was rescued, he said.

Twenty-four others were injured, including 11 first responders, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. Eight people remained hospitalized Monday, officials said.

The accident occurred while workers were adding tower sections to extend the crane upwards, an operation known as "jumping" the crane, said Kate Lindquist, a spokeswoman for city buildings department.

While crews were jumping the crane to the 18th floor, a steel collar used to tie the crane to the side of the building fell as workers attempted to install it. That damaged a lower steel collar installed at the ninth floor that served as a major anchor securing the tower crane to the building under construction.

The blocks around the construction site consist mostly of low-rise residential buildings but in recent years developers have erected a number of big condo towers, sparking concerns among residents about the pace of development.

The city had answered 38 complaints and issued more than a dozen violations in the past 27 months to the construction site where a 43-story high-rise condominium was going up. None of the violations was related to the crane, Bloomberg said.


On Sunday, the Reliance Construction Group, the project’s contractor, released a statement expressing sympathy to the families of the dead and injured and said it was cooperating with government investigators.

Four workers killed in the accident were identified as Wayne Bleidner, 51, of Pelham; Brad Cohen, 54, of Farmingdale; Anthony Mazza, 39; and Aaron Stephens, 45, of New York City, police said Sunday. The three people found Monday had not yet been identified.

About 250 cranes operate in the city on any given day, and the accident shouldn’t alarm New Yorkers living near high-rise construction sites, the mayor said. "This is a very tragic but also a very rare occurrence," he said.

But neighborhood residents and a Manhattan borough official raised concerns about city inspections at the apartment tower.

The neighborhood was struggling to return to normal Monday. One lane of Second Avenue reopened to traffic, and many stores and bars were open for business.

The manager of an Irish bar noted how fortunate it was that the accident didn’t happen Monday, when hundreds of thousands of people thronged nearby Fifth Avenue for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. There are about a half dozen Irish bars in the neighborhood.

"If it happened today there would be carnage," said Jameson’s Pub manager Michael Mullooly.



Associated Press writers Karen Matthews and Richard Pyle contributed to this report.

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