ONE person has died and three others were seriously injured when a crane collapsed on Friday morning in Lower Manhattan, smashing the roofs of parked cars, authorities said.
The crane landed across an intersection and stretched most of the way along a block in the Tribeca neighbourhood, about ten blocks north of the World Trade Center.
There was damage to the roof of a nearby building, and debris littered the street.
“It was right outside my window,” said Robert Harold, who works at the Legal Aid Society. “It was a crashing sound. You could feel the vibration in the building.”
Harold said at least one person was trapped in a car, and he saw onlookers trying to get the person out.
Harold said he also saw a person lying motionless on the street.
Nearby buildings were evacuated and officers told people arriving for work that they should go home.
The man who was killed had been standing on the street during the blustery snowfall when the crane toppled onto him, a police source said.
The crane – which was swinging a wrecking ball – fell over at 40 Worth Street between West Broadway and Church Street in Tribeca.
The courthouse at 71 Thomas Street, around the corner from the site of the collapse, was evacuated because of gas odours, a Manhattan Supreme Court official said.
Paul Capotosto, treasurer of the NYPD’s Sergeants Benevolent Association, said he and two other board officers rushed out of their nearby office when they heard the thunderous collapse.
“When it came down, it felt like an earthquake. Our building rattled… shook,” he said. “We started checking the cars to make sure nobody’s in them. We got to one of the cars, saw a man sitting in the driver’s seat, still conscious. He said he was OK.”
Capotosto, Bob Ganley and Vincent Vallelong found another injured man in the street who appeared to be unconscious and a woman who was leaning against a building, blood trickling from her forehead.
“We rendered some aid to her. It was a little bit of chaos in the street,” Capotosto said. “[The crane] came down and it crushed every car on the block.
“Thankfully there was only one person inside one of the cars.”
He added: “As bad as it is, we lost a life out there, but it could have been worse.
“Because of the weather, there were not a lot of people out there.”
Multiple ambulances and emergency workers raced to the scene and were initially concerned about a potential gas leak and that the crane might be electrified, sources said.
The incident is the latest in a series involving cranes in New York City.
In April 2015, a construction company boss was crushed to death when a malfunctioning crane collapsed on him at a Manhattan work site.
Trevor Loftus, 40, was checking out his boom truck’s leaky hydraulic system just as a hose burst, causing the crane’s arm to collapse and pin him against the vehicle’s flatbed.
In 2008, a crane owned by self-described “King of Cranes” James Lomma fell onto a work site, killing operator Donald Leo and worker Ramadan Kurtaj.
In July 2015, a Manhattan jury delivered a £33 million verdict against Lomma.