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New York City Crane Collapse Investigation Yields Arrest

Mar 21, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Last weekend's New York City crane collapse that killed 7 people has resulted in the arrest of a city inspector.  The inspector  allegedly lied about checking on the crane in the weeks before it collapsed and decimated a Manhattan block.

The New York City crane collapse occurred on the east side of midtown Manhattan last Saturday afternoon.  The crane was being used in the construction of a  43-story luxury apartment building.  The crane broke into pieces as it crashed down onto 51st street, not far from the United Nations Building.  The crane collapse destroyed a townhouse, and seriously damaged five other buildings.  The New York City crane collapse killed six workers from the construction site, as well as a Florida woman visiting the city who was staying with a friend in the destroyed townhouse.

Damage from the New York  City crane collapse, which  officials said ranked among New York City’s worst construction accidents, is expected to reach into the millions of dollars.  At least a half-dozen buildings were evacuated,  and rescue workers were using dogs, listening devices and thermal imaging to search the rubble for victims.

Yesterday, Edward Marquette, 46, was arraigned and released without bail on charges of falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing. Marquette was an inspector in the building department's division of cranes and derricks.  The arrest came after investigators questioned Marquette on Wednesday.  A complaint about the crane was logged March 4 to a city hot line, officials said, and Marquette said he inspected it. It was later determined he had not. Marquette has also been suspended from his job.

In the days prior to the New York City crane collapse, neighbors in the area had lodged several complaints with the city about its safety.  Bruce Silberblatt, a retired contractor and vice president of the Turtle Bay Neighborhood Association, told the Associated Press that he had filed a complaint just weeks before Saturday’s collapse.  “I warned the Buildings Department on March 4 that it was not sufficiently braced against the building,” Silberblatt said.  Some other residents told the Associated Press they had complained to the city several times about the construction site. Crews worked illegal hours and the building was going up too fast, they said. City officials said they had issued 13 violations to the site in the past 27 months, a normal amount for a project of that size.

In addition to Marquette's suspension and arrest, buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster said that the department would be conducting a full audit of his inspection reports over the past six months, and also of the cranes and derricks unit.  City officials also said they have started inspecting every construction crane in use around New York City.

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