Crane Accident Leaves At Least 10 Injured In Midtown

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A massive air conditioning unit being lifted by a crane in Midtown Manhattan fell about 28 stories Sunday morning.

Ten people were hurt, but their injuries are not considered to be life-threatening, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“It’s obviously a very serious incident. There’s going to be a full investigation,” the mayor vowed.

De Blasio said two of the injured are construction workers, the others include pedestrians and people who were inside passing cars. All were hit by falling debris.

Photos: Crane Accident In Midtown

Police said the call came in around 10:45 a.m. Sunday. Officers who responded to 261 Madison Ave., a high-rise building between East 38th and East 39th streets, found that a crane’s payload heading to the roof of the building had broken free.

The 30,000 pound piece of equipment struck the building three times, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.

The falling equipment created a trail of damage along the building’s facade. A large opening can be seen at the top of the building, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.

Chunks of concrete, glass and steel rained down on the sidewalk, 1010 WINS’ Derricke Dennis reported.

The impact was so devastating the windows in the building across the street were smashed, CBS2’s Steve Langford reported.

“There’s a number of setbacks in front of that building and we’re lucky that this piece of equipment didn’t fall directly into one of those setback roofs and go through the building,” said FDNY Assistant Chief Ronald Spadafora.

The air conditioner fell onto the rear of a passing car below, and the vehicle then crashed into a fire hydrant, Smith reported.

It’s not clear why the load fell. The city’s Department of Buildings said there were proper permits for construction at the site.

“We have no complaints at all about this device,” said NYC Buildings Department Commissioner Rick Chandler. “We think this device, in this very preliminary stage, is in good shape.”

James McCarrick told Langford he snapped a photo of the equipment high above just a few minutes before the accident because he thought it didn’t look safe.

“It was obviously a dangerous possibility that someone could get hurt,” he said. “I was curious about whether the unit itself that they were lifting it was adequately secured.”

A security guard who works across the street told Smith he narrowly avoided being struck. He chased a woman into a building to try to get proper identification from her.

“If I hadn’t entered the building, I would have just died immediately, literally,” he said.

Steve, who works at a nearby food market, told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern he thought it was a building explosion.

“I got a little scared, you know, living in the city now a days it’s a 50-50 percent chance that a building’s gonna fall on you or some kind of an explosion or something, so it’s kind of scary,” he said.

Isaac Walker, a concierge at the nearby Andaz Hotel, said he was also worried when he heard the commotion.

“I heard a lot of helicopters, there was a police cruiser that came down here just speeding with the lights on, I heard fire ambulances; I mean at least five minutes of this,” he said.

Walker said he was relieved to hear it wasn’t a terror attack and even more relieved to know everyone was expected to be OK.

Streets have been closed in the surrounding area as emergency responders work at the scene. The area has been secured, officials said.

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“We are blessed in this city to have extraordinary and fast response from our first responders,” de Blasio said. “The situation was quickly stabilized.”

The mayor said the city is working to have those streets reopened by the Monday morning commute.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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