A construction worker at a construction site near the Holland Tunnel was tragically killed in the early morning hours of Sat., April 13, after a 7.5-ton counterweight fell from a crane, crushing the 34-year-old worker.
The devastating crane accident occurred at the corner of Broome and Varick Streets in Soho at 3:15 a.m. Police reported the victim, Gregory Echevarria, of Brooklyn, died instantly at the scene of the accident due to severe injuries to his body. At the time of the incident, Echevarria was working as a crane rigger and was helping set up equipment owned by the Cranes Express company.
Echevarria was an Army war hero who served four tours of duty over the course of 10 years, having served three tours in Iraq and one Afghanistan. The victim leaves behind a fiancée and four children, the youngest of who is just a few months old. New York’s PIX 11 reports Echevarria’s last act was pushing his coworker out of the way, saving his life.
Another construction worker was also injured in the accident, reportedly struck by the crane’s hook and was taken to the hospital for treatment. Media reports indicate two witnesses to the accident were also taken in for observation.
Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Gregory Echevarria in the wake of this tragic incident.
After the construction accident, the Department of Buildings immediately halted work at the work site, dismantled the crane, and removed the machinery as evidence. The building, which is a 25-story, 54-unit luxury condominium project, was originally scheduled to open this summer. Investigators are currently working to determine what caused the accident. At the time of the report, it is believed the workers were setting up the crane. According to news reports, the company did obtain proper permitting for the crane’s use.
The New York Post reports this company has a “history of OSHA violations” and one known previous on-the-job fatality. This particular work site where this tragic death occurred reportedly has received seven complaints since July 2018, ranging from unsafe conditions to construction affecting neighboring buildings in the form of structural cracks. The location has also been linked to numerous other complaints according to records maintained by the Department of Buildings.
ABC News 7 reports this is the third accident in less than a week where a New York City construction worker was killed during the course of work. A 51-year-old worker working on the East Side was killed on April 14 by falling debris, and a 32-year-old worker fell to his death from a 13-story building located in Brooklyn on April 10.
The Buildings Department said in a media interview, “No building is worth a life,” and indicated all construction workers deserve safe treatment and to “come home safely at night.” The agency says it is committed to investigating all three deaths and will hold the responsible party accountable for endangering workers or the public.
Sadly, New York City is far too familiar with construction accidents. The industry is ranked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as the deadliest industry in New York City. Statistics show approximately 20 construction workers are killed in New York City each year. Additionally, reports indicate while the number of tragic deaths each year in the city remain consistent, the number of accidents occurring last year “surged significantly” with 761 construction workers injured in 2018. This is a 13 percent increase from 2017.
Many speculate the current construction boom in the city plays a role in the uptick of accidents occurring, accidents are reported to be steadily on the rise since 2014. In 2017, city officials issued 168,243 construction permits, which was reported by the New York Post in September 2018 to be an all-time high. City initiatives in recent years to reduce construction-related accidents have included more mandated training time for construction workers (now 40 hours per year), quadrupled penalties for safety lapses, and hiring new enforcement inspectors – they hired 140 the first year. However, despite these initiatives aimed at decreasing the number of incidents, devastating construction accidents in New York City continue to regularly affect workers, their families, and their communities. Senseless accidents like the recent death of the Army veteran simply should not happen.
If you, or a loved one, have been impacted by a construction accident, you deserve justice for the emotional trauma and damages you’ve suffered. Many accidents could be prevented.
At the Raphaelson & Levine firm, you’ll receive compassionate and knowledgeable representation. To learn more about construction accident results or to receive a free legal consultation, please call us at 212-268-3222.