A crane that malfunctioned in a New York City construction pit Tuesday night, killing one worker and injuring two others, was due to be inspected on Thursday, April 5, just two days after the fatal collapse.
According to the New York Times, the 34-year-old crane, owned and operated by Yonkers Contracting, was supposed to have been inspected in January, but that inspection was never completed. The last full inspection of the crane was completed in July 2011.
The crane had been excavating for a New York City subway extension project at West 34th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues at the time of the incident, which occurred several stories below street level. The crane was operating next to an even deeper hole when, according to one witness, the boom suddenly gave way and crashed, killing Michael Simermeyer, 30, of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and breaking the leg of another worker.
The crane operator and a flagman were not physically injured but were treated at a local hospital for shock. The depth at which the incident took place made rescue efforts slow and difficult, according to the New York Time’s sources.
Mr. Simermeyer was descended from a long tine of construction workers, the New York Times reported. He had been employed by J&E Industries, a subcontractor to Yonkers Contracting.
According to the New York Times, “Yonkers Contracting has had a long and sometimes contested history of work on public projects in the city, including a fatal 2000 accident in which a painter fell to his death from the Manhattan Bridge. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) fined the company $1,500 for two serious safety citations in the accident. The company successfully appealed a third.”
The company has been investigated numerous other times. In 2010, its vice president was convicted on federal fraud chargers, and the Department of Investigation ordered the company hire a monitor to supervise its work from 2003 to 2008 for numerous reasons, one of which involved bribery.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office sent prosecutors to the work site to take authority over the crane for investigative purposes. Inspections were ordered for all other cranes involved in Metropolitan Transportation Authority work, and construction at the accident site was halted so city, state, and federal officials could investigate.
The fatal crane malfunction was the first accident in New York City involving a construction crane since 2008, when two separate crane crashes killed nine people.