DA's office investigating crane collapse

Two killed in deadly accident
June 2, 2008 5:34:17 PM PDT
The district attorney's office is now investigating the deadly crane collapse that rocked the Upper East Side last week.Eyewitness News has learned two search warrants were served over the weekend. Two people died when the giant crane came crashing down last Friday along 91st Street and 1st Avenue.

Eyewitness News reporter Sarah Wallace has more.

Acting Department of Buildings commissioner Robert LiMandri wanted to talk about recommendations that he and industry leaders will be announcing over the next few days to improve crane safety. We, of course, wanted to talk about what we have heard about Friday's accident. But for the moment, the commissioner has clamed up.

No one at the Maspeth, Queens, office of the New York Crane Company was talking today. But one law enforcement source tells Eyewitness News that investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney's office raided the location late Friday night, seizing records just hours after the fatal collapse.

The crane that collapsed is operated by New York Crane. The firms owner, who works out of the company's Kearny, New Jersey, location, has said nothing publicly since the accident, but our source says records were also seized from that location.

Sarah: "We've been told that an identical piece was found at another location, and that New York Crane was told not to repair it."
LiMandri: "I will tell you that in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation, I won't discuss the investigation at this time."

The commissioner refused to discuss any details of the investigation, although over the weekend, he said the focus is now on a bad weld on the turn table, where the cab sits.

"We have reviewed, based on some photographs, that a weld or a structural member, may have had fatigue," he said.

A source close to the investigation says that an identical turn table had been cracked by lightning at a job site at 46th Street and 8th Avenue, and city inspectors had warned the crane company to discard the turn table and not repair it.

As investigators focus on whether that turn table was repaired and improperly reused at the site of the collapse, emergency crews placed a 20-foot beam into several floors of the apartment building that the crane sliced through.

City officials are hoping to let some of the residents start heading back there Tuesday.

"We should have about 120 apartments available and about 40 or so apartments that are damaged and not available," Office of Emergency Management commissioner Joe Bruno said.

Bruno said it could take weeks or even months for those apartments to be repaired. Some more good news is that some lanes on First Avenue have been reopened to traffic.