Volume 76, Number 20 | October 4 - 10, 2006

The crane is supported by many boxlike segments, one of which fell to the street on Friday crushing a taxi; firefighters and police rush one of the injured crane operators from the scene.

Villager photos by Tequila Minsky

Crane takes its Toll; Nearly kills cabbie and fare

By Jefferson Siegel

Shortly before 4 p.m. last Friday, a portion of a crane tower being used in the construction of a 21-story building at Third Ave. and 13th St. fell from the crane onto Third Ave. The boxlike segment fell onto a taxi, injuring the driver and a passenger, who was sitting in the rear seat on the driver’s side. The pair escaped with minor injuries, although the cab was totaled.

Also injured were three construction workers who were in the cab at the top of the 22-story-high crane. When the metal broke away and fell off, the cab shook, causing the workers to be thrown around inside.

An armada of emergency service units from the police and fire departments responded. Because of a solid block of concrete hanging from the crane and the risk of collapse, several buildings in the immediate area were evacuated. A block north, hundreds of students living in New York University’s Coral Tower residence on 14th St. were seen filing out, carrying cell phones and nothing else. Many turned to look back at the crane as they were directed several blocks up Third Ave.

Third Ave. was closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic from 12th to 15th Sts. Workers spent Friday night and Saturday dismantling the crane. Third Ave. was finally reopened late Saturday afternoon. The Department of Buildings said the crane collapsed because of a failure of its hydraulic system.

A stop-work order was in effect until the company can explain why the accident occurred and provide a plan insuring the project’s future safety. On Monday, the department citations of unsafe crane operation totaled eight.

The building, being constructed by the Toll Brothers, is located at 110 Third Ave. between 13th and 14th Sts. The building, being marketed as “One Ten 3rd,” is a condominium of 77 one-to-three-bedroom apartments.

Previously on the site stood the 90-year-old Variety Theater, which was torn down in 2005 for the new building.

Jefferson Siegel

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