One Killed, Two Injured in West Harlem Building Collapse

Two construction workers were injured and one was killed in March when a warehouse collapsed at the Columbia University expansion project campus in West Harlem. The two-story building was being prepared for demolition when it unexpectedly collapsed with three workers inside. Firefighters and other emergency responders reportedly followed cries for help to free the trapped construction workers. According to James Long, spokesperson for the Fire Department of New York, 31-year-old Sakim Kirby and 69-year-old Juan Vicente Ruiz were found buried up to their chests in debris. Once freed, both men were immediately taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center where Ruiz later died. Following the collapse, Kirby was allegedly treated for a broken arm and trauma to his head.

45 minutes later, 60-year-old King Range was located and extracted by firefighters. Range was reportedly pinned beneath a concrete slab and buried in an air pocket deep within the rubble. The rescue was purportedly made exceedingly difficult due to the risk of moving debris. Once rescuers reached the man, Range was taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in stable condition.

All three construction employees worked for Breeze National Inc. of Brooklyn under a subcontract overseen by Lend Lease. Two years ago, a Breeze National construction worker was killed after he fell while working on another Columbia University expansion project job site. At the time, the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued two citations to the company for failing to protect workers from fall hazards. Additionally, the New York Buildings Department reportedly issued a stop-work order in the weeks before the collapse for Breeze National's failure to notify the city regarding the beginning of the current demolition project and failing to comply with worker safety requirements. The order was later rescinded.

Although the cause of the collapse is still under investigation, a spokesperson for the Buildings Department stated the incident may have been triggered by the removal of a structural support beam.

Unfortunately, construction industry workers face hazardous working conditions on a daily basis. Accidents at construction sites injure or kill thousands of workers each year. Although workplace injuries are normally subject to state workers' compensation laws, a third party may also be held liable for failing to implement adequate health and safety measures. For example, contractors have a duty to warn construction workers about potential safety hazards and to ensure a reasonable level of workplace safety. Property owners, architects, and equipment manufacturers may also be held responsible for an accidental injury at a construction site. If you were hurt while working at a New York construction site, you should discuss your injury with a qualified personal injury attorney.

Call the Paleudis Law Firm, LLC at (212) 835-6768 in New York City if you were injured in a construction accident. Our committed Westchester County personal injury lawyers assist clients in New York and New Jersey who were hurt by another person's negligence or carelessness. At the Paleudis Law Firm, LLC, our dedicated, hardworking attorneys have more than 45 years of experience helping clients throughout New York and New Jersey. To discuss your case with a skilled personal injury lawyer today, contact the Paleudis Law Firm, LLC through the law firm's website.

Additional Resources:

Construction Worker Killed in Building Collapse in Manhattan, by Al Baker, New York Times