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Construction worker killed and another critically injured after NYC elevator plunges four stories

One construction worker was killed and another critically injured after a freight elevator in plunged four stories while they were loading it.

The two men, whose names were not revealed, were loading the the elevator on the top floor of a charter school that is under construction in the Bronx borough of New York City around 8.15am on Wednesday when it dropped to the ground floor.

Workers told the New York Daily News that they do not know know what caused the elevator to drop. The NYC Department of Buildings is investigating the accident and has ordered the construction work to stop.

The man who died was reportedly a supervisor helping load construction debris. His colleague, 29, was rushed to Lincoln Hospital in critical condition.

The Medical Examiner’s office was seen removing a body from the building after the accident. 

The Medical Examiner loads a deceased construction worker after the elevator he was on fell four stories

A close-up shows the elevator that fell four stories killing one and critically injuring another

A close-up shows the elevator that fell four stories killing one and critically injuring another

A person is seen with a gurney at the building were a man died after an elevator accident

A person is seen with a gurney at the building were a man died after an elevator accident

Father Oswald Denis leads construction workers in prayer after one person was killed and another critically injured when a freight elevator collapsed and fell several stories in the Bronx

Father Oswald Denis leads construction workers in prayer after one person was killed and another critically injured when a freight elevator collapsed and fell several stories in the Bronx

Two people are seen mourning the accident at the building in the Bronx

Two people are seen mourning the accident at the building in the Bronx 

A woman is pictured speaking with NYPD Community Affairs officers on the scene

A woman is pictured speaking with NYPD Community Affairs officers on the scene 

A close-up shows the elevator that fell four stories killing one and critically injuring another

A close-up shows the elevator that fell four stories killing one and critically injuring another 

A close-up shows the elevator that fell four stories killing one and critically injuring another

A close-up shows the elevator that fell four stories killing one and critically injuring another

NYPD Community Affairs officers investigate the elevator, pictured, which fell four stories

NYPD Community Affairs officers investigate the elevator, pictured, which fell four stories

Construction worker Santiago Veles, 33, told the outlet that he was working on the first floor with another colleague when he heard the crash.

‘We saw the dust from the fall. It was dust all around,’ Veles said.  

Another worker, 25-year-old Flor Tenesaca, said that ‘there were always safety measures in place.’

‘It was a one-time mistake, I don’t know,’ Tenesaca said.

She said as she wiped away tears that the workers did not know much about the supervisor – describing him as tight-lipped about his personal life. 

‘He was a typical boss. We spoke mostly about work,’ she said.

John Ferrington, who delivers to the site, called the accident a ‘terrible thing’ in an interview with WABC.

‘Your heart goes out to whoever’s family this is. It’s a terrible thing to find on a job site and makes you think about your family, of course. I’m going to call my wife,’ Ferrington said.

Father Oswald Denis led construction workers in prayer after the tragic accident.

A sign shows that work on the building was expected to be completed in 2018

A sign shows that work on the building was expected to be completed in 2018

Construction workers wait for word on their fellow workers as one person was killed and another critically injured when a freight elevator collapsed and fell several stories

Construction workers wait for word on their fellow workers as one person was killed and another critically injured when a freight elevator collapsed and fell several stories

The building, at 20 Bruckner Boulevard, was the scene for another fatal construction accident in December 2019

The building, at 20 Bruckner Boulevard, was the scene for another fatal construction accident in December 2019 

Buildings Department spokesman Andrew Rudansky told the New York Daily News that ‘every worker who leaves for the job site in the morning deserves to come home safely at night.’

‘We are committed to finding out how this tragic incident occurred, and if we find that safety rules were ignored, we will hold those responsible to account,’ he said.

He said that a ‘thorough investigation of the events that led up to this incident’ will be conducted with the help of the NYPD. 

Rules for elevator safety

  • Look down and make sure the elevator is level with the floor while entering and exiting.
  • Do not exit the elevator if it stops more than 9 inches from the landing.
  • Press the door open button to hold closing elevator doors instead of using any part of your body.
  • Never lean on elevator doors.
  • Keep clothing items like ties and scarves clear of closing elevator doors.
  • Be patient and don’t crowd the elevator. Too many people crowded into elevators can cause it to get stuck.
  • Avoid jumping which can make an elevator uneven with the floor. You can also get stuck. 

Source: NYC Department of Buildings

Among other alterations, the construction crew had a permit to work on the elevator, a spokesperson for the FDNY told the outlet.

The building, at 20 Bruckner Boulevard, was the scene for another fatal construction accident in December 2019 when a worker fell through an opening on the second floor and fell 20 feet, according to the Buildings Department. 

The Bronx building previously was the home for a long-vacant ice factory called the Ruppert Ice House. 

It was often referred to by its nickname as the ‘History Channel Building’ because the network had a massive sign on the roof that has since been replaced with an iHeartRadio billboard. 

Construction crews are working to convert the space into a campus for the K-12 Dream Charter School, and it become the school’s main campus, WABC reported.  

According to a 2013 report from the Center for Construction Research and Training, elevators are responsible for about 27 deaths and 10,000 injuries per year in the United States.

Data compiled by the center in 2018 showed that ‘elevator-related fatalities in construction fluctuated year-to-year but generally increased over time’ from 2003 to 2016.

The majority of elevator-related fatalities in construction, about 54%, were due to falls to a lower level like that on Wednesday in New York. 

However, unlike fatalities, ‘elevator-related nonfatal injuries in construction generally declined from 2003 to 2016,’ according to the report.

The last elevator-related death to have happened in the Big Apple appears to have occurred on August 22, 2019 when a man was crushed to death while trying to exit the elevator car.

Samuel Waisbren, 30, died when the elevator suddenly dropped with five other people still inside who were later rescued by firefighters. 

Seemingly the last elevator death nationwide happened September 14, 2020. Carrie O’Connor, 38, was crushed to death when she was caught in the doorway when the elevator suddenly dropped at an apartment building.

There are more than 70,000 elevators and escalators in New York City, according to the Buildings Department. Elevators have been operational in the city since 1857.


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