NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island man has died a day after after a piece of a fire escape fell off a building in SoHo, critically injuring him and another person.
Police said 58-year-old Richard Marchart succumbed to his injuries Saturday.
He and a 24-year-old woman were rushed to Bellevue Hospital “with serious, life-threatening injuries” shortly before 2 p.m Friday.
Marchant, a married father of three, lived in Garden City with his wife and high school-aged daughter, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported. His two sons are in college.
The young female artist was on her way to a studio at the New York Academy of Art on Franklin Street.
Fire officials said the building on Howard Street was undergoing an inspection of its facade at the time the accident. The piece that fell might not look like much, but it weighed an estimated 150 pounds, Carlin reported.
The building inspector, who works for a private contractor, was standing on the fire escape when the step came loose under her and plunged seven stories, according to FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Michael Gala Jr.
“She actually fell partially through the fire escape,” he said. “Thankfully she was able to pull herself up.”
She was evaluated by EMS and refused medical aid.
“I just became aware of it when I saw a kid crying,” said witness Chris Siemer, who works in a nearby store. “I heard a loud noise. I saw maybe a kid 11 years old crying on the corner and his mom was likely aggressively pulling him away. And I looked — yeah, there were two bodies on the floor.”
The Department of Buildings responded to the scene, along with the NYPD, FDNY and Office of Emergency Management.
The DOB issued a violation for failure to safeguard the building. It also required the building owner to hire fire guards, who will direct people out of the building in the event of a fire instead of using the fire escape.
Crews erected scaffolding on the sidewalk and kept people back Saturday, while inspectors were seen jumping up and down on fire escape landings and steps to see if they held.
“That one looks like it’s fine, like you wouldn’t look at it twice, looks like it’s in good shape,” SoHo resident Hillary Sparks told Carlin. “Obviously not.”
Death and injury related to a fire escape, with so many of them in the city, made other pedestrians nervous.
“You don’t think about the fire escapes falling, you don’t even realize they’re above you,” Emily Raffield said. “So yeah, it’s scary.”
“I think they are too old. That’s what I think,” Ivan Spasov added.
City law requires all buildings taller than six stories to be inspected and reports filed with the DOB every five years. A 2013 report on the building in question found no unsafe conditions.