It happened around 1:45 p.m. on Baychester Avenue in Co-Op City, with the billboard and pole ending up in the parking lot of a center that houses Drugbox Pharmacy, a 7-Eleven, a Sherwin Williams, a TD Bank and other businesses.
Video: The moment the billboard came down
A Drugbox Pharmacy employee tells Eyewitness News that a newly-installed wind turbine came down, possibly due to the wind, and struck the billboard.
"The Department of Buildings is on the ground working with first responders on site," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Thankfully we can report that there are no injuries, and everyone is safe and sound. An investigation into how this incident happened is underway."
Video: The aftermath of the billboard and wind turbine crashing down
The FDNY and Department of Buildings are on the scene, and the NYPD has cordoned off much of the area over fears more of the sign could fall.
Witnesses said they knew something was wrong when they saw the blades of the wind turbine spinning out of control.
"A wind turbine should not be able to be taken down by the wind," state Senator Jamaal T. Bailey said at the scene, according to the Co-Op City Times.
BREAKING: New York State Assemblyman @mikebenedetto82 and state Sen. @jamaaltbailey address the media at the site of the 500 Baychester Ave. wind turbine and sign collapse.— Co-op City Times (@coopcitytimes) December 30, 2019
Bailey: “A wind turbine should not be able to be taken down by the wind.” pic.twitter.com/5ZCeea2l9a
The massive electronic billboard in question has been a source of controversy in the community, and Eyewitness News previously covered the outrage of area residents.
The signs went up just after Christmas in 2017, a triangular set of three massive monitors that pump out advertising 24 hours a day.
The wind turbine reportedly went up in mid December but had not yet been activated.
According to Matt Cruz, district manager of Community Board 10, the turbine is over 150 feet high and was placed at the parking lot adjacent to the illuminated billboard at Baychester and Bartow avenues.
Photo: Crews put up the wind turbine on Dec. 13 (Credit City Councilman Andy King)
All the nearby businesses were evacuated as a result of the incident Monday, and they remain closed along with the streets.
Senator Bailey issued the following statement regarding the incident:
"The events that occurred on 500 Baychester Ave. in Co-op City are a reminder that we can not allow any type of building structure be put up so hastily, and that the Department of Buildings needs to properly inspect these structures prior to it's assembly. There are many yet unanswered questions about the permission to build and the stability of a structure that was put up quite literally as residents of Co-Op City slept, and we continue to investigate this matter. We are lucky that there were no injuries from the collapse of the wind turbine and the only damage, while unfortunate, was property damage. We are even luckier that this was not a day where school was in session, as there are multiple schools on Baychester Avenue and the injuries could have been devastating. My office will continue to monitor this situation, and I hope that the owner of this turbine realizes that Co-op City is no place for this type of structure. Simply because one believes they can do something, they shouldn't always do so. This serves as a reminder for that."
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