Construction workers injured in partial building collapse in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, FDNY says

A partial building collapse in Crown Heights injured several construction workers on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, the FDNY said.
A partial building collapse in Crown Heights injured several construction workers on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, the FDNY said. Photo Credit: EA Sports

Six construction workers were injured when a building partially collapsed in Crown Heights, Brooklyn Tuesday morning, fire officials said.

Workers were loading cement blocks onto the roof of a brownstone at 1294 Park Place, near Schenectady Avenue, in Crown Heights, around 9:45 a.m. when part of the roof collapsed into the basement, according to an FDNY spokesman. 

The FDNY pulled six of the construction workers out of the rubble, fire officials said. There was a total of nine workers at the site when part of the roof gave way, the spokesman said, but it wasn’t immediately clear where they were all located at the time. 

Vladimir Uchen, who identified himself as the construction site’s general contractor for Z&J Management LCC, said the crane operator made a mistake when unloading a cinder block onto the roof.

“The driver from the [crane] made a little mistake and look what happened. The building collapsed,” Uchen said. “He tried to take off the fork from the cinder block, and he took the fork and the cinder block together.”

A spokesman for Z&J Management declined to comment over the telephone.

Construction worker Norman Harrison, 67, said he has been working at the brownstone for Z&J Management for the last few weeks. When the roof collapsed, he said he rushed in to help and heard a co-worker screaming. One of the injured workers was stuck between a two-by-four and another plank, he said.

All six workers who were pulled from the building were taken to NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County and were expected to survive, the FDNY spokesman said. Four of the workers were in serious condition and two were in stable condition, according to fire officials. One of the workers suffered a leg injury, the spokesman said. 

Gloria Spencer, 56, lives next door to the brownstone. She said she was in bed when her building shook; then she heard a loud thud.

“I’m sorry to hear this happened. We know the guys, we see them every day,” Spencer said, adding she saw one construction worker conscious and being moved on a stretcher.

The Department of Buildings conducted a structural stability inspection Tuesday afternoon and issued stop-work orders at the location as well as at the neighboring, 1296 Park Place, which was also undergoing construction, a spokesman said. Multiple violations were expected to be issued at the construction site where the roof collapsed, according to the spokesman.

Ten people who live in the neighboring buildings, located at 1292 and 1298 Park Place, have been displaced from their homes as a result of the collapse, the DOB spokesman said. At least three of those people are being relocated to a hotel with the help of the American Red Cross, which also was on the scene Tuesday afternoon, according to Tashawn Brown, with the city’s Office of Emergency Management.

City officials want to secure the brick wall on the collapsed building to be sure it won’t fall onto 1292 or 1298 Park Place before they let residents return, Brown explained. It was unclear how long that may take.

There were no open violations related to the current construction project prior to the collapse, DOB records show. In 2009, the Department of Buildings issued a complaint at the property detailing concerns with the building’s structural stability and water damage throughout, including holes on the first and second floors as well as the roof.

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a City Council bill into law that increases safety training requirements for construction workers. Part of the bill, Intro. 1447-C, requires the mayor to task a city agency with creating a construction site safety program.

“For the hard-hats in one of our city’s most dangerous jobs, this bill will help get them home to their families at night and keep the general public safe around construction sites,” de Blasio said in an emailed statement on Monday.

The bill comes in in the wake of several construction accidents, some of which have been fatal. 

Most recently, two construction workers were killed in separate incidents on the same day back in September. One worker, identified by a cousin as Juan Chonillo, fell nearly 30 floors to his death at a construction site for a luxury condo building at 161 Maiden Lane in the Financial District, officials said at the time. The other construction worker, who was not identified by police, died after he fell about three stories from a boom lift at a construction site located at 401 Ninth Ave. in midtown, according to the NYPD.

With Rajvi Desai