NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) –– The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Friday was trying to get to the bottom of a bizarre accident, after a construction drill pierced a subway tunnel in Queens and brushed against a crowded train car.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Friday, MTA experts went into the F Train tunnel for a closer look at the damage Friday, while a federal workplace safety inspector also stopped by the scene.
A surveillance video showed the drill at the time of the incident, as workers gathered to look once they realized that something had gone wrong.
“If the drill goes into the train, the train running at that time, what’s going to happen?” said Kris Simkhada, a gas station manager in Long Island City where the accident happened. “Lucky, you know? Nothing happened.”
Simkhada has watched for weeks as subcontractors connected to construction giant Tutor Perini used 10-inch drills to pierce the pavement. He said he was not surprised to learn that the workers drilled too deep on Thursday.
Around 11:45 a.m. Thursday, a worker – reported earlier to be employed by contractor Griffin Dewatering New England Inc. — was using the drill above ground near the station and was supposed to be expanding a construction well, officials said.
The drilling that has been going on is part of the East Side Access project to bring the Long Island Rail Road trains to Grand Central Terminal, officials said.
Somehow, the bit, which was 10 inches across, drilled right into the subway tunnel, grazing the top of a crowded train car and breaking one of its windows. The drill bit did not enter the car, the MTA said.
The train stopped and another train was brought in behind it to guide the 800 people on board through the train and back to the platform at 21st Street.
Simkhada said he often sees workers standing around at the site, with their focus seemingly elsewhere.
“Some people do a lot of negligence. The engineers are talking, people not paying attention to the work, that’s what I’m thinking,” he told CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
The MTA on Friday wanted to know if negligence was a factor in the incident that damaged the train car, and disrupted Queens-bound F Train service for five hours.
A spokesman said the workers were drilling in the right spot, but went much too deep, about 25 feet down. The subway tunnel roof is 15 feet underground and the workers should have known to stop well before the drill reached it.
CBS2 reached out to Griffin Dewatering Friday, but the company had no comment.
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