The investigation into a tragedy at a Manhattan construction site continues. Earlier this week, we shared the grisly news that 37-year-old Tina Nguyen, an aspiring real estate broker and Manhattan resident, was killed while walking on W. 12th St. in Greenwich Village. Nguyen was on her cell phone when a 4 x 8′ piece of plywood struck her, slamming her into a concrete wall. She died later that evening at Bellevue Hospital. The tragedy has gripped the city. Residents and commuters alike have since been wary walking the crowded streets of Manhattan because of the unexpected and sudden nature of this horrible accident.
The plywood came from a construction site at the former St. Vincent’s Hospital location. There were very forceful winds, reaching speeds of approximately 40 mph, on the day of the accident. The theory being offered by investigators is that the strong winds lifted the unsecured piece of plywood from the construction site and caused it to fly towards and crash in to the unsuspecting victim as she was casually walking down the block. The location has been under construction for some time and the site has been the source of a series of complaints and open safety violations.
How can construction work continue under weather conditions like this?
Aren’t 40 mph winds a pretty strong indicator that the work should be discontinued until the conditions are safer?
From our vantage point, these are very fair questions. Now, the investigation needs to reveal some answers. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family and friends of Ms. Nguyen as they cope with this loss and await the findings of the investigation.
The investigation is now focusing on how they plywood was being secured. Turner Construction, the general contractor on the job site, is sitting firmly on the hot seat. City engineers and inspectors from the Department of Buildings are grilling the supervisors from Turner about how and where the piece of plywood was stored. They are inspecting a fence that was supposed to confine the deadly plywood, even going so far as to scrutinize the screws that are being used to keep the fence in place. Why is the investigation heading in that direction? It is the responsibility of a general contractor to maintain a safe work site. It is well settled that a safe work site includes properly securing all tools, equipment and debris that can lead to an injury if unsecured. If this plywood was not properly secured and left for the forces of nature to send it soaring into the air like a deadly weapon then the responsibility for this tragedy lies squarely with those who were responsible for the safety of that job site. Time will tell.
We will continue to follow this story and provide details as news about the investigation continues to trickle out.
Block O’Toole & Murphy is a law firm that is committed to fighting on behalf of construction site accident victims. The lawyers at this firm have recovered more than $850 million on behalf of their seriously injured clients. You can learn more about the firm by reviewing their website www.blockotoole.com.