Jan. 9, 2013 By Bill Parry
A 380-foot crane collapsed at a construction site at Center Blvd and 46th St. at 2:20 on Wednesday afternoon. Seven construction workers were hospitalized, three have serious injuries.
Russell Robertson, a 32 year old laborer for Cornerstone and Cross Country Construction was among those that escaped injury. “We heard a lot of snapping sounds, then a whole lot of screeching and squealing,” Robertson said, “then it came down at 40-50 miles an hour.”
Robertson estimated 70 workers were on the site at the time of the incident. “We were calling out and looking for hard hats to help,” he said, “it was truly terrifying.” Robertson saw at least three workers pinned underneath, hit by the metal.
FDNY Deputy Chief Mark Ferran said, “No civilians were hurt and all workers are accounted for. Seven injured workers were taken to area hospitals.” The Chief reported that none of the injuries were life threatening. The sight was secure and engineers from the Buildings Department had begun an investigation.
The seven workers who were hospitalized were all carpenters. Union Representative Ken Blohm said, “Considering what could have been I guess you could say that this is a miracle that nobody got killed.”
The NYPD was interviewing the operator. The crane belongs to New York Crane. The owner, James Lomma was charged with criminally negligent homicide following the deaths of 2 workers in a similar collapse on the Upper East Side in 2008. Lomma was later acquitted.
Crane safety will come under much greater scrutiny especially in Long Island City where many skyscrapers are under construction. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer surveyed the scene and said, “We need to make sure these cranes are safe. Look at the model of the project.”
The model was on display in the lobby of 47-20 Center Blvd. ”What if the crane collapsed 30 or 40 stories high and crashed into another of these skyscrapers?” Van Bramer added, “Now that would be catastrophic.”