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Briarwood, Queens Construction Accident Kills 2 When Crane is Crushed

Construction is a dangerous industry with a high rate of accidental deaths and injuries.  New Yorkers were sadly reminded of this fact last week, when a tragic construction accident in Briarwood, Queens killed two workers.  Our Queens personal injury lawyer examines what may have gone wrong, costing two men their lives.

2 Killed in Fatal Briarwood Construction Disaster, Human Error May Have Been Cause

The NYC Department of Buildings is investigating a construction disaster that claimed the lives of two workers on November 22.  The victims, identified as 43-year-old flagman Alessandro Ramos of Queens and 47-year-old crane operator George Smith of Brooklyn, were fatally injured when a steel I-beam weighing more than three tons fell from a crane.  The beam initially landed on the cab of the crane, which was being operated by Smith, before falling to the ground, where it fatally struck Ramos.

The construction site death accident occurred shortly after 12:00 P.M. in the Briarwood section of Queens, near the intersection of 134th Street and 82nd Avenue, where Ramos and Smith were working on a mid-rise residential development.  Sadly, both men died from their injuries before medical help could arrive on the scene.

“Those two gentlemen won’t be going home tonight,” said Department of Buildings commissioner Rick D. Chandler, “and we’re very, very sorry about that.”

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, but high winds – which pose a major hazard for safe crane operation – may have been a contributing factor.  On the day of the accident, the National Weather Service reported gusts exceeding 30 MPH: the gust speed at which crawler crane operations were required to be halted under temporary regulations imposed earlier this year after a similar accident took place in Lower Manhattan.  After the temporary regulations expired, New York City adopted an older set of standards that required crane operations to be restricted if winds achieved steady speeds of 30 MPH.

According to Pete Corrigan, who serves as an organizer for the NYC District Council of Carpenters, several contractors called off operations and sent workers home on the day of the disaster, citing high wind speeds.  But Pav-Lak – the contractor working at the Briarwood site – was not among them.

“You’re at your own peril,” said Corrigan.

With the investigation still underway, it would be premature to dismiss the possibility of wind-related interference.  However, Chandler has expressed doubts that the weather, though potentially hazardous, was an accident factor in this particular case.

“At this time,” he said, “it appears that there was likely a rigging failure that resulted in the beam coming loose and falling to the ground.  However, we have not made any final determinations.”

He added, “There are a number of ways the rigging could fail.  We will look at all of the factors here.”

The absence of a master rigger from the site of the disaster – which is permitted under current regulations for the type of construction involved in the accident – may lend weight to Chandler’s theory.

An investigation into Cranes Express, the company which owns the crane, reveals at least one prior safety issue.  In 2015, the company was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency which enforces safety regulations designed to protect workers, for failure to ensure proper ground preparations at a construction site located in New Jersey.  However, the crane from the Briarwood accident successfully passed a safety inspection in June.

“These workers go into work every day not knowing if they’re going to come back home,” said Eddie Jorge, a crane operators advocate with the NYC Community Alliance for Workers Justice.  “That shouldn’t be a price that you pay with your life.”

Queens Crane Accident Lawyers Representing Injured Construction Workers

While the cause of the Briarwood crane accident has yet to be determined, this terrible tragedy serves as a grim reminder of the serious hazards that New York City construction workers confront on the job every day.  If you are a construction worker who was injured at a construction site in New York City, or if you are the spouse or family member of a construction worker who was killed in a fatal accident, you deserve to pursue justice and financial compensation for your losses.  Compensation may be available for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages you or your loved one sustained due to an accident leading to wrongful death or personal injury.

The Queens construction accident attorneys of Sullivan & Galleshaw have over 30 years of experience representing crane operators, flagmen/flagwomen, and other construction workers who were injured due to unsafe equipment, construction site safety violations, and other hazards that jeopardize the lives and safety of hard-working men and women.  We may be able to help you fight for compensation if you or your loved one was hurt in a construction or industrial accident.

Sullivan & Galleshaw handles construction site accident claims in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and beyond.  To find out if you or your loved one could have a claim in a free and confidential legal consultation, call our law offices at (718) 843-0300.


Over our many years practicing personal injury law, our highly experienced legal team has earned a reputation for excellence. Our attorneys have appeared on major media outlets such as Fox News and MSNBC . Our firm’s legal accomplishments have been profiled by the New York Law Journal, the Los Angeles Times, ESPN, and the Associated Press. We have won multiple verdicts in excess of $1 million, making us proud members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious organization which admits fewer than 1% of all attorneys in the United States. We were named Super Lawyers in 2011, and enjoy a perfect 10/10 Superb rating on national attorney database Avvo.

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