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Second Construction Crane Toppled in Two Months, One Person Killed

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New York, NYA second construction crane accident in New York City in two months is raising questions about the safety of building, and infill construction practices in city centers and highly populated areas. Early reports say one person was killed when a construction crane toppled in New York City this morning, and the incident is eerily similar to an event that happened earlier this Spring when a huge construction crane toppled to the ground in New York, killing seven people, injuring dozens of others and scaring an entire city half to death.

How does this keep happening?

Construction CraneThe construction day had barely begun this morning on the Azure, a high-rise condo going up at 333 East 91st street in New York City. According to eyewitness Joe Quinn, he had started work at 7am this morning along with 24 others as part of a crew stationed on the roof of the building. According to Quinn, in comments published moments ago in the New York Times, the turntable that attached the crane to the tower "came right off. Boom…" The startled 25-year-old observed that there was no weight on it whatsoever, and therefore wasn't stressed in any particular fashion. "It wasn't hooked up to anything," Quinn said. "The disk came off where it attaches to the tower.

"I ran like hell."

Another construction worker, identified as Bolivar Quiroz, age 56, made the point that he "saw, at the fourth or fifth floor a support—but they're supposed to have another support just above that, and they didn't. We looked and the crane was wavering back and forth."

It sounded, "like a bomb crashing," he said.

The crane appears to have crashed into a white-bricked apartment building at 1749 First Avenue. One eyewitness stated that she was glad, at least, that the crane fell where it did, and not in another direction—the direction of her building, which is old and may not have survived the impact, she observed.

About 12, of the 34 planned levels of the new Azure building had been completed prior to this morning's disaster that occurred just after 8am—about two hours ago. Latest reports suggest that two people have been pulled from the wreckage, but it is not known if those individuals were pedestrians, or construction workers. Also unknown is the condition of those individuals. The fatality is believed to be that of the crane operator.

The incident is a stark reminder of one of the worst construction disasters that occurred in New York City's recent history, when a construction crane toppled to the ground March 16th of this year, killing seven. In the aftermath of that disaster the city's buildings commissioner was forced out of her job, and a review of the city's construction cranes was initiated.

As the result of the tragic collapse two months ago, 21 claims have been filed against the City, requesting $366.3 million in total damages, citing personal injury, property damage and / or wrongful death. As the result of the death this morning of the crane operator, there will likely be at least one more.

Beyond that, there is the suggestion that much has yet to be done to safeguard workers, pedestrians and nearby residents living, or working within close proximity to a high-rise construction zone. It's one thing to put up a building with cranes in a remote area, unencumbered by pedestrian, or vehicular traffic. However, it is quite another to be working virtually over the very top of a busy, metropolitan city. And if that crane, way up there, were to ever come down, a bit of scaffolding and plywood is not going to stop it.

It didn't stop it in March, and it didn't stop it this morning. And somewhere, a loved individual—perhaps a husband, a father or a grandfather— will not be going home tonight…

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