Photograph of the building damaged by the collapsed crane on East 91st Street by Stephen Chernin/AP

The NY Times reports that the Manhattan District Attorney's office has opened up a criminal investigation into Friday's construction crane collapse on East 91st Street that left two dead. Apparently, it's possible that the crane, manufactured by Kodiak, could be the same one, as the Daily News reported yesterday, that "cracked at a project on W.46th St. and was welded before it was sent to the doomed building at 333 E. 91st St."

An official told the Times, "If in fact that turntable was taken out of service and someone put it back in service improperly, that could lead to criminal liability.” The Post notes that some photographs show paper stuffed into the crane's turntable, and the paper was greasy, suggesting there may have been a leak:

"Grease should not be pouring out of it," he said. "They drip, but if it's constantly pouring out, obviously there's an issue, and the crane should be put out of service immediately."

A veteran crane operator said the paper, if combined with grease and water, would have been sticky enough to seize the turntable mechanism. The force of the crane's powerful motor could then shear off the top of the crane.

Another possibility for the collapse is that the bolts could have snapped. Other critics say that the Department of Buildings doesn't have experienced crane inspectors. At a meeting yesterday between the DOB and the building industry (developers, contractors, unions, OSHA), a Post source said acting DOB commissioner Robert LiMandri threatened "if there's any more crane accidents, he's shutting the whole city down." Hey, let's not tempt fate.

LiMandri told reporters he was "deeply disturbed" by the accident but added this collapse was not like the one from March that killed seven people. He said that while the East 91st Street crane was inspected on May 20, "An internal mechanical failure is not something you are going to...see when you are checking...on the street."


Residents of 354 East 91st Street, whose building was evacuated when a penthouse and apartments on lowers floors were damaged by the crane, were allowed to return to their homes briefly to get their belongings (residents of apartments damaged by the March 15 crane collapse on East 51st Street reported their homes were looted). And WNBC got photos of one of the damaged apartments (two photos above)--the place is owned by a former deputy commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management.