Former Eyewitness News investigative reporter Jim Hoffer reacts to Manhattan crane collapse

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Friday, July 28, 2023
Extra Time: Former Eyewitness News reporter reacts to Midtown crane collapse
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.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The company that owns the crane involved in Wednesday's fiery collapse in Midtown, Manhattan has had a history of problems.

It was New York Crane & Equipment Corp. that, back in 2008, was responsible for another crane collapse in Midtown that killed seven people.

As a result, New York City cracked down on construction safety, and now has the best crane safety record of any other big city. But something can always go wrong.

The reporting by former Eyewitness News investigative reporter Jim Hoffer did so much to uncover the problems with New York's crane system, leading to the crackdown.

Eyewitness News anchor Bill Ritter sat down with him on 'Extra Time' to discuss what still needs to be done and asked what he first thought when he saw Wednesday's crane accident.

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"I immediately thought there's got to be some real collateral damage there," Hoffer said. "I thought for sure there would be serious injuries, if not death, so it was a miracle on 10th Avenue yesterday."

Hoffer said he also thought back to the two other deadly crane accidents that the same crane company was involved with back in 2008.

"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.

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.

"In 2008, it led to sweeping changes within the buildings department, but one of the findings that came out of any of the investigations was that this crane company was cutting corners on repairs," Hoffer said. "Flash ahead to yesterday, 15 years later, and you have one of their cranes, essentially bursting into flames high above the city."

Hoffer continued, "Cranes don't just burst into flames, they don't just catch on fire, and that again speaks to a maintenance issue, and the crane company is most responsible for maintaining maintenance of those cranes."

As for this incident, Hoffer says he believes at the end of the investigation, it will find that a lack of maintenance played a critical role in this disaster.

RELATED | Construction worker killed in crane accident in Midtown

Bill Ritter has the story.


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