In the wake of their loved one’s untimely death, the family of construction worker, Mario Salas Vittorio, is searching for answers as to what happened on the day of his accident.
On Thursday, July 16th, 2020, Salas, 59, was tragically killed and three other workers were injured at a construction site in Murray Hill when metal and concrete debris fell from the roof of the apartment building they were working on onto their scaffold, causing it to collapse. These workers were restoring the façade of an 11-story apartment building at 136 E. 36th Street when the accident happened at around 4:30 in the afternoon.
In a video shared by News 4 New York, Salas’s daughter and wife are seen weeping at the site where the accident occurred. His daughter, Angela Molina, tells reporters “We just need someone to answer all our questions. To know what’s going on. What happened. How it happened. It’s supposed to be safe here.” Salas worked hard to raise money for his family in the United States, as well as relatives back in Mexico. He worked in construction his entire life with no prior injuries on the job.
The permit holder for this project is Edras Group Corp., a company that has had 43 violations issued by the NY Department of Buildings over the past 10 years, though no violations were previously cited at this site. The DOB has issued an initial summons for “failure to institute adequate safety measures during construction operations” to Edras Group. Their investigation into the incident is ongoing. Salas had just started working for Edras Group two weeks prior to this accident.
This incident has brought attention to the city’s oversight of unsafe buildings. Residents of the apartment building say the repairs should have been done much sooner. In February of 2019, the DOB filed a Local Law 11 Façade Inspection Safety Program report that “indicated that the façade was unsafe, and in need of repair.” Work on this building had only recently resumed after being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It seems not a day goes by that another piece of building falls on somebody,” said Manhattan City Council member Ben Kallos, who has been pushing for legislation that would bring higher fines and charge owners for repairs in similar scenarios. “There shouldn’t be a place where any part of a building is falling on anybody.”
Queens Council member Francisco Moya spoke out for better protection of construction workers in a statement on Friday. As construction workers have struggled over the past few months to make their living with many sites closed for the pandemic, workers who are now returning to work are “returning to sites managed by unscrupulous developers who make it unsafe to be on the job.” Moya advocates for the passing of Carlos’s Law, a bill he drafted that would increase penalties on corporations that endanger the welfare of workers. The bill is named after Carlos Moncayo, a 22-year-old construction worker who was killed in a trench collapse in 2015. Carlos’s Law would create class D and E felonies for corporations whose negligent actions cause the death of a worker. The bill has yet to be voted on by NY Senate.
Our hearts are with the families of those who were lost and injured in Thursday’s accident. Our lawyers have seen the tragic consequences of unregulated construction sites and are dedicated to helping those who fall victim to negligent practices. Our proven track record helping victims of construction accidents includes a $15,000,000 settlement in a wrongful death case for the family of a worker who was crushed by a 28,000-pound chiller unit.