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Crane Lands Against New York City Building
March 27, 2010

A crane tipped and fell against a commercial building in Lower Manhattan on Saturday evening. There were no injuries, the police said, but four buildings and part of a fifth were evacuated and traffic was rerouted.

No one was operating the crane when it fell about 7:30, the police said, and some cement fell off the building, at 80 Maiden Lane. The Fire Department sent numerous trucks to the scene, and firefighters were working to secure and remove the crane.

"We tried building up the pressure in the crane to no avail," said Deputy Assistant Chief Robert Boyle, of the Fire Department. "We're now at a standstill."

Officials closed Maiden Lane from Water Street to Broadway and Pearl Street from Fletcher Street to Wall Street, and four buildings were evacuated, including 100 Maiden Lane, a residential building, as well as 2 Gold Street from the 25th floor down.

The base of the crane was in Louise Nevelson Plaza, a triangular slice of a sculpture garden across the street from 80 Maiden Lane.

"The crane had authorization to move mechanical equipment on to the top of 80 Maiden Lane," Robert LiMandri, the buildings commissioner, said at a news conference. About 7:30, he said, "the boom drifted."

"There's minor damage to the parapet wall of the topmost facade of the building," he said.

David Robertson, who lives nearby at 10 Liberty Street, said he was alerted to the crane's fall by a noise that sounded like metal on metal. "You could've heard it half a mile away," he said.

Mr. LiMandri said it was too early to tell if there was any negligence or wrongdoing. "We are certainly going to pull this crane out of service and we're gong to do a full investigation," he said.

Dave Lawrence, 26, who lives at 2 Gold Street, said he and his companion watched the crane being installed. "As it went up it was tilting, skewed," he said. "As the crane got higher it was bad. We figured, they're engineers, they must have it figured out."

The couple left for the day, then returned to hear sirens. "We said, 'I bet that's that crane,' " Mr. Lawrence said.

The crane, which is owned by Bay Crane, looked precarious as it leaned on the corner of the building. Curious neighbors came out to watch one woman even brought a bowl of pretzels.

Susan Stevens, who lives at 100 John Street, said she was listening to the radio when she heard sirens. "I'd be nervous now if there was a crane near my building," she said.

Mohammed Bacchus, a security guard at 80 Maiden Lane, said he saw the crane begin to lean, then gradually fall toward the building. "It took about half an hour," he said. "Then it just gently grazed the building."

While the latest episode appeared to have caused minimal damage, it jarred a city that experienced two fatal crane collapses over a two-month period, the first of which occurred almost exactly two years ago. In mid-March 2008, seven people were killed when a crane slammed into residential buildings on East 51st Street, destroying a town house. And two construction workers were killed in May 2008, when a crane fell at a construction site on East 91st Street.

On March 8, James F. Lomma, the owner of the New York Crane and Equipment Corporation, pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges stemming from the latter collapse.

Mr. LiMandri said the crane that fell Saturday was a mobile one used for relatively small jobs, and it had been used during the day, lifting mechanical equipment and building supplies.

As for the effort to remove the crane, he said, "We're going to work all night."




Website: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/nyregion/28crane.html

 
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