Bits of twisted steel, some on fire, rained down on the scaffolding-covered sidewalks and alleys below. For some New Yorkers who witnessed it, the crane collapse on July 26th made them think of 9/11 as the bits soared down.
Hoisting concrete to the 36th story of a high-rise building in Manhattan, when suddenly a fire erupted in the cab of the crane. Quickly burning through the cable keeping the arm in place, the concrete and the crane’s arm toppled down onto the streets below. Once the dust settled from this 180ft piece of now twisted steel, the word came out; nobody had been killed or seriously injured. Including the crane operator.
Yet 15 years ago, that was a different story.
In 2008, the same New York Crane and Equipment Corp. were in charge of two of the worst crane collapses in NY history. With nine people dying in two crane collapses in nine months, both run by the same company, the city was forced to reexamine the business and how they inspect and regulate tower cranes.
In those incidents, two different crane operators found their licenses suspended for eight months during an investigation. Chris Van Duyne was one of those men and is now at the center of this latest investigation. As of July 28th, neither Van Duyne nor New York Crane are being publicly accused of any wrongdoing, but many are already murmuring about the risks of the company.
City Council Member Pierina Sanchez, who also serves as the head of the council’s committee on housing and building, raised a serious and real question. “It raises concern that a company that has a history of injuries and fatalities on site is continuing to do business in the city of New York. Why do they still have a license?”