Ten people were injured near a New York City construction project Sunday morning when an air conditioning unit about the size of a small bus broke free as it was being hoisted by a crane, falling 28 stories and smashing into the street below.
New York City authorities said none of the injuries were considered to be life-threatening.
The incident happened at a high-rise building at 261 Madison Ave just before 10:45 a.m. Sunday – a time when the streets are relatively uncrowded.
“Thank God this incident occurred at an hour of the day on a weekend when there were not too many people around,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in press conference shortly after the incident.
The Associated Press reported that as the 23,000-pound unit fell, it smashed off the sides of the building, which is wider at the base and becomes narrower in steps on the as it rises. Pictures published by the New York Daily News show extensive damage to the 11th and 29th floors.
“We’re lucky that this piece of equipment didn’t fall directly into one of those set-back roofs and go through the building,” FDNY Chief Ronald Spadafora said, speaking with other authorities to reporters outside of the building.
In addition to the severe building damage, the unit smashed the street below, damaging nearby vehicles. Madison Ave. had just one lane open to traffic in front of the building due to construction, which also may have saved lives. Five of the injured people were in cars when the machine fell to the street.
“I think the city dodged a bullet,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. “You see the aftereffects of the way this fell, and the injuries were all minor. When something drops from that height in our crowded city and we suffer no serious injuries, it certainly is a good outcome.”