2006_12_bldgcollap4.jpg

Yesterday's building collapse at an under-renovation building on West 113th Street injured two workers and killed another who was planning on leaving the city on Friday to see his 2 year old son. Richard Joseph, a 33 year old Brooklyn resident, was on 2-month leave from his job as a police officer in the Barbados; he had come to the city in hopes of moving here.

Joseph spoken about the safety issues at 280 West 113th Street repeatedly. His cousin Octavia Felix said that on Christmas Eve, Joseph said, "I don't like this job; I feel like I'm going to die in this job." Felix added, "He felt that if he worked one or two more days, he could make enough money to go back to Barbados to visit his son. He was going on Friday. Then he was going to get all his business in order to move here permanently. He never made it."

Joseph had been working on the ground floor when the roof caved in. A security guard said beams were covering one man's entire body. One of the other injured men was Joseph's uncle, Stephen Fanfane. Another worker, Jeffrey Ramos, said, "I worked with [Burton Joseph] for two weeks. I feel like I knew him forever. We shed blood together."

The building, which was owned by the city, was sold to the Neighborhood Partnership Housing Development Corporation in 2003; the company renovates buildings and sells them afterwards. And 280 West 113th was being renovated into apartments. The Department of Buildings had previously issued violations against the renovation work at the site; currently, the DOB is investigating what caused yesterday's collapse but does not believe there will be further collapses.

Photograph of rescue workers retrieving a body by Seth Wenig/AP; photograph of the exterior of 280 West 113th Street this morning by Joe Schumacher on Flickr