Construction worker Gregory Echevarria was tragically killed when a crane counterweight fell on him at around 3:15 a.m. on April 13, 2019.
Echevarria, 34, was working to put up a crane at a construction site on 570 Broome Street in Lower Manhattan when the accident occurred. At least one other worker was injured when the counterweight fell. The Department of Buildings (DOB) ordered that the crane be dismantled and for all other work to halt at the jobsite. An investigation is ongoing.
Disturbingly, the Real Deal further reports that there have been at least two safety complaints made on this construction site before Echevarria was killed. On April 8, just five days before Echevarria’s death occurred, a DOB inspector visited the site and lifted a partial stop work order which had previously been issued.
The troubled jobsite is owned by Murat Agirnasli and partners, a Turkish-American developer who purchased the rights to the property for $31 million back in 2014.
This week has been one of the bloodiest in recent history for the New York construction industry. Just in the past 7 days, Echevarria is the third construction worker to lose his life in an on-the-job accident. On April 8, Nelson Salinas was killed by falling debris as he worked from a suspended scaffold in Midtown. On April 11, Erik Mendoza was killed in a fall while performing roof work in Brooklyn Heights.
It is frustrating and sad to watch New York construction workers continue to be seriously injured and killed while simply trying to earn a paycheck. One hopes that the recent rash of work fatalities has sent a clear and strong message to other developers in the city: when workplace safety is not a priority, hard-working people can lose their lives.
One way to force unethical construction developers to prioritize worker safety, is to levy significant fines when unsafe working conditions lead to injuries and fatalities. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen often enough: the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH) reported that the average fine for a New York construction fatality in 2017 was only $21,644.
Compare that paltry fine to the 8-figure sum that this plot of land was purchased for. Does anybody feel that a $21,644 fine is going to force the hand of a developer who has millions of dollars to throw around?
We should emphasize that the investigation into this accident is still ongoing. It is difficult to be optimistic, however, considering that workplace safety violations have so recently occurred at the site. Whatever the outcome of the DOB investigation, we hope that the responsible parties can be identified so the family and friends of Gregory Echevarria can receive some small measure of justice for the tragedy they have been forced to endure.
The Law Firm of Block O’Toole & Murphy strongly supports worker rights. Many of our attorneys are active members of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYTLA) Labor Law Committee, an organization dedicated to enacting laws that protect workers in New York State. Partner Daniel O’Toole serves as the Co-Chairman of the committee.
Additionally, we’ve litigated numerous construction accident cases, including those that involve crane accidents. To date, we’ve recovered well over 100 construction accident verdicts and settlements exceeding $1,000,000, including a $12 million settlement for a worker harmed in a crane accident at a Manhattan construction site.
Recently, Block O’Toole & Murphy secured a $110 million verdict for a cyclist who was paralyzed by a falling object, believed to be the largest non-medical malpractice jury verdict in New York history.
Nothing can undo the devastation of a construction accident that leaves somebody seriously injured or killed. Our lawyers aim to hold the negligent parties legally responsible, so that you may receive the maximum compensation that you are entitled to under the law. To speak with a Block O’Toole & Murphy attorney today, please call 212-736-5300 or fill out our Contact Form.