Safety regulations put into place following several deadly crane accidents in New York City in recent years failed to prevent a crawler crane collapse at 60 Hudson St. in lower Manhattan early on Feb. 5 during a snowfall. As the operator lowered the jib around 8:30 a.m., the descending jib and boom picked up speed, ultimately crashing to the ground and overturning the cab with its force. The accident killed a 38-year-old pedestrian, and injured three, two seriously.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who rushed to the scene, said that the crane was being secured due to high winds when the accident occurred.
"The Department of Buildings had been on site yesterday to approve next steps. DOB reviewed the work and approved it," the mayor said, speaking to reporters near the crash site. "But no work was done this morning because the crew made the decision to bring the crane down to the secure position.” The crew was directing people away from the area when the accident occurred, he added.
No information was immediately available about the crane operator or how the operator may have lost control of the crane. He has been identified in media reports as Kevin Reilly, 56, of Port Jefferson, N.Y.
In response to the incident, 376 other crawler cranes and 43 larger tower cranes operating throughout the city will be secured in the interest of safety. The streets surrounding the crash site are likely to be closed for several days.
Galosso Trucking & Rigging was the company operating the crane at the time of the accident, said a buildings department spokesperson. The owner of the equipment, Bay Crane, made headlines last spring when a rigging strap on one of its cranes broke, sending a 4-ton heating and air-conditioning unit crashing to the ground and injuring 10 people. Bay Crane could not be reached for comment.
Mayor's Accident Timeline
In a briefing, de Blasio said that "for this particular company" the safety precautions required lowering the crane to the secure position "if the winds were approaching 25 miles per hour, as lower than the typical standard for cranes – but for this company that was the standard." He added that "in fact, they were in the process of securing the crane."
After arriving at the jobsite at 7 a.m, de Blasio also noted that the crews "recognized the winds were in the 20 mile-an-hour plus range, and were proceeding to secure the crane – actually to bring it down to a safe and secure position when this incident occurred."
Buildings department personnel had inspected the crane early on Feb. 4, reviewed the work that was being done and approved it, de Blasio continued. The accident occurred, he said, "literally, as they were lowering the crane to secure it."
This story was updated on Feb. 6 to include more information about the total injuries and content from the mayor's Feb. 5 press briefing.