The arm of a 170-foot crane broke in half Tuesday, killing one and injuring four others at a subway construction site in Manhattan, N.Y.
The New Times identified the dead construction worker as Michael Simermeyer, 30, of Burlington, N.J. He was hit by the falling crane around 7 :30 p.m. and required CPR. He died at the hospital. Three of the victims were identified as a crane operator, a flag man, and a relative of one of the victims.
According to reports, the crane was mounted on the second level of a three-level construction site at the No. 7 subway line extension. The accident occurred when “the boom came apart in two pieces – one 80 feet long and the other 40 feet long,” said a FDNY statement.
“We had construction material that wasn’t stable,” said Jack Sullivan, deputy chief for the FDNY EMS.
City officials state that Simermeyer and two injured workers were caught in the collapse when something in the back of the crane apparently snapped, causing it to become unbalanced. Police used ropes to lift some of the workers from 60 feet below ground.
Witnesses say the crane “came down like a dinosaur” and “sounded like thunder” or “a big boom.” The New York Times reported that a construction worker on the sidewalk collapsed in tears into the arms of another worker. Another man appeared to have received treatment for emotional distress or hyperventilation.
In May 2008, a crane collapsed on Manhattan's East Side, killing the operator and a co-worker. The crane's owner is currently on trial for manslaughter.
The crane at fault Tuesday was owned and operated by Yonkers Contracting Company. The Metropolitan Transportation Agency is now inspecting cranes being used at all sites, since Yonkers is also involved in another MTA project. The agency issued a statement promising to participate in a thorough investigation along with authorities.
Simermeyer worked at the World Trade Center site last fall before landing the MTA position.
"He joined the union to pay off student loans and he was working hard, 60 hours a week," said 26-year-old Nick Mandarakas, who described himself as one of Mr. Simermeyer's closest friends. "He wanted to settle into his job, make enough money to someday buy a house and just enjoy life."
If you or a loved one ever become injured in a construction site accident, we encourage you to speak to an attorney as soon after the accident as possible and before speaking with the media.