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David Johnson Killed in Queens Demolition Accident, Another Worker Injured

On Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, a partial building collapse occurred at a Queens demolition site, tragically killing David Johnson and severely injuring another worker. Johnson, 50, was declared dead at the scene of the accident. The other injured worker was taken to Jamaica Hospital in serious condition. New York's Department of Buildings (DOB) is investigating this incident.

First responders were called to the site at 147-05 94th Avenue near Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica at around 11:45 a.m. Thursday morning. Johnson and other workers were working to demolish a wall on the second floor of the structure when it collapsed. Falling debris from the collapse struck Johnson and the injured worker; the two had to be moved from the second floor by firefighters using ladder trucks.

DOB Commissioner Melanie La Rocca released the following statement following the incident:

"Any loss of life on a construction site is a tragedy, and our engineers and inspectors are already on site conducting a thorough investigation... We want to assure the families of the victims that we will hold all responsible parties accountable to the fullest extent of the law."

The building was being demolished by general contractor Cole Partners Inc., who have not commented on Thursday's accident. The DOB says that the demolition project had been approved since November 2019. However, records show that the property was subject to a partial stop work order and about 16 open violations, seen on the DOB website.

Our hearts are with David Johnson's loved ones at this time. We pray for a quick and full recovery for the other injured worker. Katrina Jeffrey, Johnson's fiancée, called Johnson "a good man." She shared, "He has two daughters in college, which he worked to pay for."

Demolition projects are particularly dangerous in the construction industry. There are many hazards present on a demolition site that need to be properly considered before placing workers at risk. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides information on the necessary demolition standards, with details on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Removal of walls
  • Mechanical demolition
  • Head, Hearing and Eye and Face Protection
  • Welding and cutting
  • Fall protection

All construction site managers must ensure that their work site meets all current standards before operating. On the day of this accident, new laws regarding façade inspection and safety went into effect. These laws include:

  • Buildings over 6 stories must be inspected by a licensed professional every 5 years
  • Increased penalties for owners who fail to make repairs to unsafe facades
  • Landlords must post updates of the status of façade inspections in the buildings' lobbies

These new laws are being enacted following a series of façade collapses in New York City, including an accident in Times Square that sadly killed a pedestrian.

All workers have a right to feel safe at their workplace, especially construction workers who face dangerous situations every day. The Construction Accident Attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy have a proven track record of fighting on behalf of catastrophic construction accident victims who have suffered as a result of another party's negligence.

Our results include:

  • $110,000,000 verdict for a cyclist who was paralyzed after he was struck by a falling railroad tie during subway maintenance in Brooklyn
  • $11,500,000 settlement for a construction worker who sustained wrist injuries due to a defective saw
  • $10,875,000 jury verdict for a union worker who suffered internal injuries after he fell and was impaled by unguarded steel rebar

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident, contact the attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy for a free legal consultation by calling 212-736-5300 or filling out our online contact form.

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