A man getting out of his car was killed and at least three other people were injured on Friday morning when a construction crane collapsed onto a busy street in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City. Emergency crews responded to the Tribeca crane collapse at around 8:24 a.m. near 40 Worth Street. The fallen crane with its 565-foot boom stretched to cover roughly a city block, demolishing parked cars and littering the street and sidewalk with debris.
In a news conference this morning, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters that the deceased victim, 38-year-old David Wichs, had just parked his car and was exiting the vehicle as the crane slowly began to fall toward the ground. The unsuspecting man was violently hit by the crane and pronounced dead at the scene.
The other victims of the Tribeca crane collapse were injured after being hit by fallen debris. All are expected to survive.
Dawn Kojima, 45, and Thomas O’Brien, 73 sustained the worst injuries—the elderly man was hospitalized with a head laceration and the woman suffered severe leg trauma.
The 73-year-old man, who had reportedly driven to Worth Street with Wichs, was still seated in the car when the crane fell to the ground. In one amateur video taken in the immediate aftermath of the Tribeca crane collapse, the elderly man appears to be visibly shaken in a black car, holding his head.
The other injury reported was listed as minor, New York Fire Department officials said. According to USA Today, more than 100 firefighters and emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene with dozens of fire trucks and other equipment.
What Caused the Tribeca Crane Collapse?
The Tribeca crane collapse is the first in New York City since 2008. The crane at the center of the incident is a “crawler crane,” which has a boom (also referred to as an upper carriage) mounted onto a crawler undercarriage that can be moved around as needed. The boom can hold up to 330 tons of weight, according to city officials.
On Thursday morning, officials from New York City’s Department of Buildings inspected the crane as construction workers were installing an extension to the upper boom. According to de Blasio, the city inspectors approved the operation.
But on Friday morning, wind gusts in the area reached between 20 and 25 miles-per-hour, making for dangerous conditions. De Blasio told reporters that construction workers “were in the process of securing the crane … actually preparing to bring it down, to secure it” when the collapse occurred. The Mayor added that the Tribeca crane collapse would have been a lot worse if construction workers hadn’t started clearing the area in preparation for lowering the crane.
Over the last decade, New York City’s Department of Buildings has put forth a number of reforms to the regulation governing crane projects. However, a 2014 New York City Comptroller audit found that only 12 percent of the safety recommendations had actually been enforced.
The Comptroller’s Office has estimated that at any given time, New York City has roughly 300 cranes operating. With an increase in city high rises, the issue of crane safety should be something on everyone’s radar.
Recent Crane Collapses
Over the last 10 years, at least 21 workers throughout the U.S. have been killed when cranes suddenly failed them, according to statistics from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Crane-related deaths in this country increased from 2010 to 2014—the last full year of data from the Bureau of Labor.
Below is a list of recent crane incidents:
- February 2012, Jackson, Mississippi: A steel worker was killed and another was injured after a crane collapse. The two steel workers were using the crane to lift a steel plate when bolts holding the equipment together gave way. One of the workers was crushed in the incident.
- July 2008, Houston, Texas: Four oil workers were killed and seven more workers suffered injuries after 30-story tall crane toppled over at an oil refinery.
- March 2008, New York City, New York: Six workers with Joy Contractors Inc. were killed when a crane collapsed on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The workers reportedly fell to their deaths after the collapse. A seventh worker sustained injuries but survived the incident.
- March 2008, Miami, Florida: Two construction workers lost their lives and five other workers sustained injuries when part of a crane fell from a 40-story condominium and violently broke through the roof of house where the victims were assembled for a meeting.