One Dead, Three Injured |in NYC Crane Collapse | Courthouse News Service
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One Dead, Three Injured |in NYC Crane Collapse

MANHATTAN (CN) - One person is dead, and three others have been injured by a mammoth crane that fell from a building in the Tribeca section of New York and crashed to the snow-covered street below Friday morning.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the time of the accident crews were working to secure the crane in the face of high winds accompanying a passing snow storm.

A short time earlier, forecasters at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York reported 30 mile an hour wind gusts were being kicked up by the storm which dumped six inches of snow on much of the New York Metropolitan Area Friday morning.

The crane fell from 40 Worth Street at about 8:24 a.m., and damaged four buildings on its way to the ground, including the New York Law building.

Glenn Zito, an electrician working on a nearby building, captured the collapse in a video that can be viewed here.

During a news conference, de Blasio confirmed city inspectors had visited the construction site just yesterday at the invitation of Galasso, a construction company based in Maspeth, N.Y.

They were seeking permission to amend the project plans approved by the city, the mayor said, emphasizing that there had been no problems at the site.

Galasso was seeking an extension of the maximum length the crane could reach into order to access building rooftops.

"This was company who was putting their crane in to a secure position the way we would have wanted them to," de Blasio said.

The so-called "crawler crane" that fell is owned by the Bay Crane Company. It has a boom length of 565-feet the maximum allowed by law in New York and a capacity of 330 tons. It's called a crawler crane because it has treads, which allow it to be driven like a truck.

The fatality has been identified as David Wichs, 38, a Harvard graduate who emigrated from the Czech Republic and worked as a financial trader. He was sitting in a parked car when the crane fell on him.

Two other victims, a 24-year-old woman and a 73-year-old man, were rushed to New York Presbyterian Hospital with serious injuries.

The woman is reportedly suffering from injuries to her head and leg, while the man has a head injury. A fourth victim suffered only minor injuries, officials said.

"Our hearts go out to the families of the individual who's been lost and to all those who've been injured," the mayor said without disclosing the man's identity. "We're concerned obviously for everyone who lives and works in the area to make sure they'll be safe."

The wreckage of the crane collapse spanned two city blocks in the shadow of City Hall, Manhattan Federal and Manhattan Supreme Court. The latter was shut down for the day.

Con Edison and the New York City Fire Department are now conducting tests every 15 minutes to make sure there are no gas leaks.

Subway service in the area also has been hobbled, as trains will be skipping stops in the area for at least the next few days, de Blasio said.

"The fact is this is a very sad, sad incident," he said. "Thank God it was not worse," given that it happened at the beginning of rush hour in the bustling neighborhood.

Citywide, 376 such cranes operating at construction sites have been shut down, the mayor said, and the city's 43 larger tower cranes have also been grounded while investigations and clean-up continues.

"It was something of a miracle," De Blasio said. "Thank God we didn't have more injures and we didn't lose more people."

It's the first crane collapse in the city since 2008, De Blasio said.

"It's a very painful day," he told reporters.

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