Parts of 10th Avenue remained closed Thursday as workers continued removing large parts of a crane that came crashing down 45 stories Wednesday morning.
According to multiple reports, a fire caused by a hydraulic fluid leak in the engine compartment of the crane heated a cable suspending the crane’s jib, causing the partial collapse.
Miraculously, just 12 people, including three firefighters, suffered minor injuries.
“Just as I looked up, about three seconds later everything came tumbling down,” recalled Kent Moseley, who witnessed the incident on his way to work Wednesday. “We took off running because we didn’t know if that thing was gonna fall this way.”
Putting the crane cabin fire out was a challenge for the FDNY: After four hours of shooting water down at the crane from the roof of an adjacent building, the flames came under control.
“It really shows, I think, the speedy work of our members and the complicated nature of a modern emergency response,” FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said.
The crane is owned by the Queens-based New York Crane and Equipment Corporation. Fifteen years ago, two incidents involving their cranes killed nine people and led to new safety measures for crane operators in the city.
NY1 covered the first incident in March of 2008 at a construction side on East 51st Street.
Six construction workers and one bystander in a nearby apartment were killed and 24 people were injured when the machine fell and hit a neighboring building before destroying part of the street below.
That May, another crane owned by the same company collapsed on East 91st Street, killing the crane operator and another worker on site. The owner of the company was tried on manslaughter and other charges, but was acquitted.
The city's Department of Buildings has confirmed that the man operating the crane yesterday is 62-year-old Chris Van Duyne.
According to multiple reports, Van Duyne and his brother were blamed for another worker's death involving a crane in 2008. Both had their operators’ licenses suspended for eight months.
New York Crane and Equipment Corporation did not respond to NY1's requests for comment on the collapse, and Van Duyne and his brother could not immediately be reached for comment.
Wednesday’s collapse caused several buildings in the area to be evacuated. Most people were let back inside around 4 p.m.
“I think we are extremely lucky that it didn’t collapse onto our building,” said Jaehee Yoon, who spent her day evacuated from her apartment in Central Park with her dog. “I know some residents still can’t get in.”
The DOB said a preliminary review found “all of the documentations were in order” for construction at the site.
The agency said their investigation is ongoing, but that it is hiring a third party to assist in an independent investigation into yesterday's incident.