NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A piece of plywood flew off a building, hitting and killing a 67-year-old woman yesterday in Queens.
The building had been issued more than a dozen violations, and now it’s facing another one.
The aluminum-covered panel crashed down around 10:40 a.m. on 41st Road near Main Street in the Flushing neighborhood. Grandmother Xiang Ji was walking on the sidewalk when the plywood knocked her to the ground.
“As she was being carried into the ambulance, she was still breathing, her eyes were open. I thought she would make it,” said Pan Zheng Qiang, one of several witnesses who rushed to help Ji.
The 67-year-old later died at the hospital.
New York City’s Department of Buildings issued a violation to the property owner for failure to properly maintain the building. That’s in addition to 18 previous violations – none related to the façade, most related to work without a permit inside.
A man who identified himself as the manager refused to answer reporters’ questions.
Winds were so strong yesterday, the roof of a yellow cab was punctured by debris that fell from a high-rise under construction on 57th Street. No one was hurt, but the DOB issued a stop work order.
“Contractors are responsible for taking extra precautions to secure their sites during high winds. We have ordered all work on the exterior of the building to stop until the contractor has proven the site is safe,” the department said in a statement.
After the Queens incident, crews installed a sidewalk shed to keep people on the sidewalk safe.
The DOB said, following a full investigation, it will take “aggressive enforcement actions” against the responsible parties, as warranted.
“We have issued a violation to the property owner for failure to properly maintain the building, and have ordered the immediate installation of a sidewalk shed at the location in the interest of public safety,” the full statement read. “Investigations into this incident, by DOB and our partners in law enforcement, are ongoing, and additional enforcement actions may be issued at the conclusion of these investigations.”
Crews were in Flushing early this morning working on a sidewalk shed which the @NYCDOB ordered the property owners to install after a woman was struck and killed by a piece of plywood that fell of the building. More info: https://t.co/SL9vB2vWl2 @CBSNewYork pic.twitter.com/ojdw32ZE4a
— Jenna DeAngelis (@jennamdeangelis) January 17, 2020
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the deadly incident “heartbreaking.”
“Heartbreaking news out of Queens,” he tweeted. “[The DOB] is investigating this site top-to-bottom to determine whether proper protocols were followed. Please keep the family and loved ones of this woman in your thoughts today.”
City Councilman Peter Koo called on the city to shut down the building “until there is greater understanding of this building’s safety and scaffolding is in place.”
“My heart goes out to the family and friends of the woman who was struck by falling debris today in Flushing. Such a horrific tragedy should never happen to anyone who is simply walking down the sidewalk, and it is a clear example of why building owners and city agencies need to ensure building facades are safe, especially during periods of high winds,” his full statement read. “Currently, a Stop Work Order exists on the property due to several outstanding violations, and I have called for the city to shut down the building until there is a greater understanding of this building’s safety and scaffolding is in place.”