Authorities make progress in aftermath of terrifying crane collapse in Midtown

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Friday, July 28, 2023
Even larger crane needed to remove crane that collapsed in Manhattan
An investigation continues after large crane caught fire and partially collapsed Wednesday morning on 10th Avenue in Manhattan, NYC. Reporter Morgan Norwood has the latest.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The city is planning to bring in an even bigger crane to remove the fire-damaged 45-story crane that partially collapsed onto a Midtown street Wednesday morning.

"DOB is now coordinating with contractors and their engineers as they devise a plan to bring another, larger crane into the city to remove the damaged tower crane," Buildings Commissioner James Oddo said at a City Hall briefing Friday afternoon.

Workers have made quick work of what collapsed onto the street. The 180-foot-long boom was cut up into pieces and removed from the scene Thursday.

"All of the loose debris has been removed or secured, mitigating potential falling hazards," Oddo said. "Simultaneously, the contractors have removed the majority of the glass and concrete debris from 10th Avenue, this quick work has enabled us to reopen 10th Avenue to vehicular traffic."

Oddo held up a piece of glass from the street.

"I have with me one of the thousands of shards of glass that rained down on 10th Avenue that day, in addition to the part of the crane," Oddo said. "The collapse sent glass and concrete debris raining down onto 10th Avenue. I think we've all seen the gut wrenching videos of the incident, showing the catastrophic collapse over one of our city's busiest streets. It's really nothing short of miraculous that no one perished or was seriously injured in the incident."

Eyewitness video shows the moment a crane on fire partially collapsed to the street down below.

He stressed that both the crane and the buildings its detached boom struck are stable. Buildings Department inspectors climbed 550 feet into the air Thursday "so the inspectors could get a closer look of the damage caused by the fire."

Two apartments and a lounge inside 555 10th Avenue, the building hit by the crane's arm, remained evacuated Friday.

Oddo cautioned the cause of the fire has not been determined. All involved in the crane's operation Wednesday morning are being investigated.

Video from Jimmy Farrington shows the moment a crane arm fell to the ground below.

"We are looking at every entity, there is a general contractor involved, there is the crane owner involved, the crane user, the crane operator, the crane engineer -- all of those entities and every other variable in this situation will be looked at and considered," Oddo said.

Additionally, the city will bring in an "outside independent entity" with "a particular subject matter in cranes" to "sort of look top to bottom at this specific incident, to see what lessons can be learned and what changes can be implemented."

City officials previously said the crane company was in compliance with the permits leading up to the incident on Wednesday.

However, Eyewitness News is learning more about the crane operator and his background. Chris Van Duyne had his license suspended and fined for eight months back in 2008 following an accident that killed a worker.

Records also show the company was involved in two deadly collapses in Manhattan 15 years ago.

The company was previously charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in connection with a collapse in May 2008 that resulted in two deaths at East 91st Street and 1st Avenue. The company and its then-owner were found not guilty in 2012.

The company was also involved in a crane collapse in March 2008 at East 51st Street and 2nd Avenue that killed seven people.

Former Eyewitness News reporter Jim Hoffer covered crane safety for years.

In this edition of 'Extra Time,' Bill Ritter interviewed former Eyewitness News investigative reporter Jim Hoffer, who offered his reaction to the fiery crane that collapsed in Manhattan on Wednesday.

"It's the same company that played a role in those horrific accidents and I think that's what really is drawing the scrutiny and quite frankly has frightened people," he said.

As for this crane incident, the preliminary investigation suggests the fire was likely caused by a hydraulic fluid leak, according to officials briefed on the situation. The probe is ongoing.

The Buildings Department is aware of a 2012 crane fire and collapse in Sydney, Australia and will also look at any similarities to the Midtown collapse.

Oddo repeatedly stressed Friday "how fortunate we were" that only 12 people suffered minor injuries.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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