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Falling debris kills 1, injures 2 in lower Manhattan, FDNY says

Three people were injured in lower Manhattan when

Three people were injured in lower Manhattan when a step on a fire escape came loose and fell seven stories to the ground on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, police and fire officials said. Photo Credit: Rajvi Desai

A man died Saturday after he was hit in the head the day before by the step of a fire escape that plummeted seven stories from a lower Manhattan building, police and fire officials said. Two other people were also injured in the accident.

A private engineer hired by the owner of the building at 38 Howard St., near Broadway, was standing on the fire escape just before 1:40 p.m. Friday when the step came loose and fell to the street, hitting two pedestrians in the head, according to the Department of Buildings and FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Michael Gala.

The pedestrians, a 24-year-old woman and a 58-year-old man, were rushed to NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue in critical condition, authorities said. The woman was conscious and alert with a minor laceration to the head when paramedics arrived on the scene, according to the NYPD. The man — identified by police Saturday as Richard Marchhart of Garden City — was lying in the street unconscious with a possible skull fracture. 

Marchhart died of his injuries at Bellevue early Saturday morning, according to police.

Robert Barila, 33, a vendor at nearby Snkrflea on Broadway, said he witnessed the step hit the deceased.

"The man was bleeding. Both of them were on the sidewalk on the ground," Barila said. "I'm out here in the city every day and stuff falling from the sky is scary."

Joe Diorio, 38, who owns the nearby Snkrflea store, was walking a customer to her car when he saw Marchhart lying on the ground.

"There were cops everywhere. They responded in seconds," he reported. 

The engineer, employed by CANY Architecture + Engineering DPC, was conducting a routine inspection on the facade of the nine-story building when she partially fell through the fire escape, according to the Department of Buildings. She was able to pull herself up to safety, Gala, the FDNY deputy assistant chief, said. She was evaluated by first responders at the scene and refused medical attention.

There were no complaints on file related to the building’s facade or fire escape before Friday’s incident, according to the DOB.

DOB was conducting an investigation into the incident, which included a thorough inspection of the facade. 

With Rajvi Desai and Nicole Levy

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