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Crane Collapse: "I Ran Toward the Commotion"

A Skyline Employee's First-Hand Account

On a snowy February 5, 2016, a 15-story crane operating in Lower Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood collapsed shortly before 8:30 am leaving one dead and three injured. The massive crane, which extended 565 feet above Worth Street, was in the process of being lowered as winds began to approach 25 mph. Upon attempting to secure the massive crane, which was installing generators and air-conditioning units at 60 Hudson Street, the crane toppled across West Broadway towards Church Street. The collapse left water main and gas line leaks, as well as loads of debris scattered across the area, causing street and subway line closings.

Timothy Pasparakis, an assistant project manager for Skyline Restoration, had just concluded a meeting at 145 West Broadway when the crane came down: “I was ordering breakfast at a local restaurant when I heard a horrific crash and what sounded like twisting metal. Being in the industry, I knew something had gone terribly wrong so I ran toward the commotion”. As Mr. Pasparakis made his way to the site, and seeing the damage that had unfolded, his focus immediately turned to providing any help that he could: “My attention was on the row of cars that had been crushed by the crane. As I looked around the site, I saw a man trapped in a vehicle. Another construction worker and myself tried to remove the passenger door to get the man out, but we were unsuccessful so we were telling him to relax, while trying to keep the bystanders away. It felt like an eternity, but the FDNY and NYPD were on site within minutes.” Mr. Pasparakis ended by expressing his opinion on what could have occurred had timing and circumstances been different: “Thank goodness there weren’t a lot of people on the streets at the time. If it were 9 o’clock in the morning on a sunny day, this could have been a different story, and if the crane had initially impacted the surrounding buildings at a greater height, it would have showered bricks on everything and everyone on its way down making matters worse.”

The crane collapse led to the city’s decision to secure the 367 mobile cranes and 43 large tower cranes in use that day in New York City. The accident also led Mayor Bill de Blasio to issue new regulations that require operators to stop crane procedures when winds reach 20 mph and to notify local businesses and residents when cranes are being installed or moved, while also mandating stricter sidewalk and roadway closures.

“Safety is our primary concern in construction industry, and it’s always a priority to comply with mandates necessary to keep people out of harm’s way”, said Mr. Pasparakis.


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