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Officials Apologize After Woman Hurt By Flying Construction Chisel At Asphalt Green

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Officials with the Department of Design and Construction and the Sanitation Department have apologized after a woman was injured in a construction accident at a sports and fitness complex on the Upper East Side.

The incident occurred at the Asphalt Green Aqua Center on York Avenue at 91st Street Wednesday.

As CBS 2′s Dick Brennan reported, video shows construction workers at the controversial Marine Transfer Station who were trying to lift a manhole cover using two chisels when something went wrong.

“One chisel slipped out, spun off and crashed through the window of our fitness studio,” said Carol Tweedy, Asphalt Green’s senior advisor and former executive director.

“This incident should never have happened. DDC and DSNY are fully committed first and foremost to providing a safe environment for the community and construction workers at the East 91st Marine Transfer Station site,” the agencies said in a joint statement. “All work has stopped while safety personnel are conducting a full and thorough investigation and recommending new safety measures for the site.  DDC will continue to maintain vigilance at all of our construction sites through stringent, random safety audits, while also enforcing all standard safety protocols.”

Now, the city contractor has taken responsibility for the frightening accident.

The Department of Design and Construction said the contractor “used improper equipment to lift and transport a manhole casing,” CBS 2′s Lou Young reported.

The workers in question have been banned from the site and new safety managers are being brought in, the agencies said.

“We will continue to be responsive to community stakeholders, share ideas with the community, and exchange information,” the agencies said.

Debris found after window shattered, injuring woman at Asphalt Green. (credit: Image via CBS 2)

Debris found after window shattered, injuring woman at Asphalt Green. (credit: Image via CBS 2)

Carol Cocking, an employee at Asphalt Green, was working out when the window suddenly exploded and glass came raining down on her.

“Whatever it was, it was coming right at me,” she told Brennan. “I saw it come through the glass, and it was coming right at me. You saw it. That’s the last thing I remember before I was kneeling in a sea of broken glass.”

Cocking escaped with minor cuts and bruises.

“I got off really, really easy on this one,” she said. “It could have been much worse.”

Tweedy said the apology is not enough.

“The apology does not cut it in any way,” she said.

Opponents of the Upper East Side transfer station are pouncing on the accident as more reason why it doesn’t belong in the neighborhood.

“This is validation of our point that this is the wrong place for a garbage station,” Tweedy said. “This will not be the last accident, absolutely not.”

The city is building the transfer station at the location because it already has a permit to do so. A station used to exist in the same spot years ago, built when the recreation center was an asphalt plant.

Opponents of the project said the accident should prompt the city to re-think what it’s doing. If nothing else to at least relocate the truck ramp that runs next to the center, right past sporting fields, Young reported.

“It’s the location of the ramp that is especially dangerous to children,” Tweedy said.

The Marine Transfer Station has been in the works since 2006.

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