City officials are investigating the collapse of a midtown Manhattan building yesterday, which left one worker dead and another seriously injured. The West 38th Street site, which was bought for $12 million, was being razed to make way for a 27-story luxury hotel.
The collapse at 25 West 18th Street, an eight-story building, occurred around 10:30 a.m. Friday. According to authorities, one worker was killed when a piece of flying wood hit him in the head (he was found pinned against a dumpster). Another worker, a 20-year-old man, was trapped in the rubble of wood and bricks. The Daily News reports "the lower five stories collapsed in a V-shaped pattern... The unidentified man, buried from the waist down at the point of the V, was pinned beneath thousands of pounds of debris after he was knocked from the first floor into the basement."
According to the Post, "The FDNY erected a makeshift canopy to shield the man from bricks that continued to rain down on him throughout the three-hour ordeal. He remained conscious but quiet during the rescue." Rescuers used ”hand tools, air bags and jacks" while removing debris "inch by inch."
Captain Dominick Bertucci said, "We had minimal lifting angles. If we lifted at one point, we did not want the debris to shift to another point."
They also gave him an IV for the pain ("Smiling death" is a concern for victims who are crushed but still conscious). Lt. Jonathan Negron said, "We brought world-class medicine right to his side in that hole. The worker managed to squeeze rescuers' hands to show that he was still conscious. " He was finally removed around 1:30 p.m., three hours after the collapse.
The News also says, "The building’s owners had just switched demolition companies two weeks ago in a dispute over money. Metro Industrial Wrecking was replaced Oct. 16 on the demolition permit by Northeast Interiors of Maspeth, Queens. A lawyer for Northeast Interiors insisted the workers were not in the middle of demolition work when the building came down."
A source told the Post "that construction debris was overloading a floor and caused the collapse. 'They (workers) were working on the fourth floor. They were taking the bricks down and stacking them on the floor. There is only so much (weight) the floor can take,' the source said."
All of the other 17 workers—apparently non-union—were located and uninjured.