DOB: Equipment failure likely caused beam to fall, killing 2 workers at Queens construction site

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Workers killed in Queens construction accident
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N.J. Burkett has details on the accident that killed two construction workers in Queens.

BRIARWOOD, Queens (WABC) -- Two construction workers were killed after a steel beam fell on top of a crane's operator cab in Queens Tuesday.

It happened just after 12 p.m. near the intersection of 82nd Avenue and 134th Street in the Briarwood section, close to where the Van Wyck Expressway and the Grand Central Parkway intersect.

Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler said the 6,500-pound beam dropped from the fourth floor of the building onto the crane.

Chandler said it appears the rigging rope may have failed while the beam was being lifted, causing the piece of steel to break loose and fall to the ground. Though, the investigation is still ongoing. Wind does not appear to be a factor in the accident.

"It was a 6,500-pound beam going up four stories. I would say the wind would not have a major factor on that," said Chandler.

The workers killed were identified as flag man Alessandro Ramos, 43, and crane operator George Smith, 47. Both were trapped in the wreckage and died at the scene.

"With that kind of a load, if it fails, it's going to snap and it's going to be a very quick action with very little time to react," said Chandler.

Chandler said the crane was last inspected in June.

"Our inspectors saw it. That was the annual inspection that all machines need to go through. So I think June 1 was the date that our people were there and approved the satisfactory operation of this machine," Chandler said.

Construction is being done at the building to extend the sixth floor, which had all of the required permits. The crane operator was also properly certified.