NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As the cleanup continued Friday night for a crane collapse that left a man dead and three others injured in Tribeca, the focus was shifting to the investigation and trying to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.
The collapse happened just before 8:30 a.m. on Worth Street near Church Street. The 565-foot big rig was owned by Bay Crane of Long Island City, Queens and Hicksville, Long Island, and operated by Galasso Trucking and Rigging.
The Department of Buildings had just inspected the crane on Thursday, and the operator was arguably taking every precaution when he began lowering the boom just as winds were approaching 20 mph.
But now, the DOB has launched a full investigation.
The crawler crane is capable of lifting 350 tons. It was just installed at the former Western Union building at 60 Hudson St. last Saturday, tasked with replacing generators and air conditioners on the building’s roof.
Just 24 hours before the crane’s terrifying topple, inspectors for the DOB checked it out as it prepped for its next phase of work – giving the crane the all-clear. An extension was added, and crews reported no problems.
“It was approved and it was submitted by an engineer,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler. “I went over it with my staff.”
Meanwhile, the NYPD has also launched an investigation into the crane collapse in Tribeca on Friday, including a probe into the operator’s history. As WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola reported, there has been no suggestion that the crane operator may have been impaired when the crane collapsed.
But NJ Advance Media said investigators have dug up information indicating that the operator was locked up in 1982, 1984 and 1989 for three separate driving under the influence arrests.
The New York Daily News identified the operator as Kevin Reilly, 56, and said his breathalyzer test came out clean.
After the crane fell, NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill said the operator was cooperating.
“Our detective bureau is working with the (Department of Buildings) on this, and we’re interviewing the crane operator,” O’Neill said.
The crane was being used for work at 60 Hudson St., the former Western Union Building, to replace generators and air conditioner units on the roof, Chandler said.
The crane went up on Jan. 30 and had full permits, officials said. It had been inspected as recently as Thursday because the boom was being extended, de Blasio said.
Inspectors found no problems with the crane, but Chandler said, “Obviously, it requires investigation in terms of the way this was done.”
O’Neill said the police investigation has been launched in case anything criminal might be involved.
The incident Friday morning was one of several crane-related accidents in just the past year.
Last May, several people were injured when a heating and air conditioning unit became untethered in Midtown, falling 30 stories to the street.
A massive construction boom is taking over Manhattan. In 2009, there was a total of 21 million square feet under construction, while by 2015, 88 million square feet were being built.
Now, the de Blasio administration plans to invest $120 million to add 100 new building inspectors for a total of 500.
“We have more and more inspectors who are going to get on top of that,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The mayor has now ordered all 376 crawler cranes and 53 tower cranes operating around the city to be secured immediately.