Block O’Toole & Murphy is a construction accident law firm that has been involved in many significant building collapse cases, so we are very carefully following the facts of last Friday morning’s tragic collapse at 25 West 38th Street in Manhattan as they continue to emerge. The worker who was killed in the collapse has now been identified as Pedro Basilico, a 26-year-old Brooklyn resident who came to this country as a teenager seven years ago and worked hard so he could send money to his family in Mexico.
According to reports, Mr. Basilico had been working on the first floor of the 8 story building that was being demolished to make way for a new, 27-story luxury hotel. When the floors above him collapsed, a flying plank or wooden joist is reported to have struck him, leading to his tragic and untimely death. Another worker on the site, identified as Kairo Garcia, survived the collapse after being buried up to his waist in rubble and following a heroic 3 hour effort to extricate him. Mr. Garcia, who was reportedly given an IV of pain medication at the scene while still being removed from the rubble, is now being tended to at Bellevue Hospital.
Mr. Basilico came to this country as a teenager, like so many others, looking for honest work to support his family. A friend describes him as a “quiet” young man and a “good guy”. What a horrible tragedy this is. We send our thoughts and prayers to the family of Mr. Basilico, and our well wishes to Mr. Garcia for a full recovery.
The cause of this building collapse is still under investigation by the authorities. One report is that a floor of the old building was overloaded with bricks that were being stacked up as they were removed. In fact, a complaint about excessive debris at the site was apparently made on August 25th. Thus far, the building’s owner, Fortuna Realty Group, has only commented by about the identity of the company that held the demolition permit, which was Northeast Service Interiors.
We hope that the causes of this collapse are identified and that those responsible for the collapse are held accountable. There is no excuse for overloading floors during a demolition. The owner and contractors on a site such as this have both a moral and legal duty to insure that work is proceeding safely. This should include structural analyses of the building and continuing inspections as it is being demolished. If necessary, shoring or bracing should have been provided to support floors that may have been weakened during demolition. Most of all, the health and lives of workers should never be put at risk so that a job can proceed more quickly or more profitably. Unfortunately, in our experience, developers and contractors often do place profits above safety, and that is when accidents tend to occur.
If you are looking for information about building collapses and other construction accidents, please visit our website at www.blockotoole.com, where you can read about our firm’s track record of recovering over $850 Million for our injured clients in verdicts and settlements. We are a team of skilled and compassionate personal injury trial attorneys, who fight hard to get justice for New York construction workers and their families. We can be reached anytime for a free consultation at (212) 736-5300.