Worker Is Killed and at Least 2 Are Injured When Queens Building Collapses

NY Times - October 08, 2006

by CARA BUCKLEY

A four-story building that was under construction in Queens partly collapsed yesterday morning, killing one worker, injuring at least two more and prompting investigators to evacuate neighboring buildings out of fear that the damaged structure would not hold.

According to the police, workers were pouring concrete on the roof of the building at 104-56 Roosevelt Avenue when it suddenly gave in. The slab crashed to the floor beneath it, partially crushing the head of Daniel Basilio, 29, of Suffolk County, N.Y., who went into cardiac arrest and later died, the police said.

A second worker was knocked unconscious, and a third was also injured, the police said. Another worker then pulled the three to safety on an adjacent roof, according to Officer Michael Morra of the Police Department's Emergency Service Unit. Two other workers at the site were not hurt, the police said. The names of the injured workers were not released.

Engineers and inspectors from the Buildings Department were investigating the cause of the collapse, which occurred just before 10 a.m. But the company that owns the site and was putting up the building, Galindo and Ferreira Corporation, was issued three violations, according to Jennifer Givner, a spokeswoman for the Buildings Department. One violation was for not having the necessary permit to work on weekends, a second was for not having approved plans at the site, and a third was for failing to protect the property during construction operations. Telephone calls to John Galindo, the construction superintendent, were not returned yesterday.

Mr. Basilio, an immigrant from the central Mexican state of Hidalgo, had a pregnant wife and a 3-year-old daughter back home, said the Rev. Allan B. Ramirez, a longtime advocate for Long Island's day laborers.

Mr. Basilio's wife was due to give birth yesterday, Mr. Ramirez said.

Mr. Basilio had been going back and forth to the United States to work for a dozen years and was staying with his brother-in-law in a Suffolk County town that Mr. Ramirez would not name.

After the collapse, service on the No. 7 subway train, which passes close to the building, was halted for more than six hours in both directions from 61st Street to Main Street because engineers feared vibrations could worsen the damage. Trains began again at 5:10 p.m. but ran at reduced speed, and Queens-bound trains were making only express stops.

Traffic on Roosevelt Avenue was sealed off from 104th Street to 108th Street, and pedestrians were briefly barred from sidewalks along the avenue too. Residents in buildings on each side of the collapse site were evacuated and left carrying stuffed animals, sacks of clothes and, in the case of one woman, a blue and white bucket filled with water and 10 small live fish.

The elevated tracks of the No. 7 line blocked access to the roof where the workers were, preventing rescuers from using a ladder and rescue bucket, so each worker was lowered to the ground, one by one, in stretchers and harnesses, the police said. Mr. Basilio was lowered first, and rescue workers immediately began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but could not revive him. He may have also partially inhaled poured concrete, Officer Morra said.

All five of the surviving workers were taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, the police said, and the worker who had been knocked unconscious was resuscitated. One worker complained of pelvic pain, and another was hurt in the upper back, the police said.

Mr. Ramirez said he accompanied Mr. Basilio's relatives to the 110th Precinct stationhouse yesterday to pick up the dead man's possessions: a wallet containing $18, about 300 Mexican pesos and photos of his family.

Daryl Khan, Colin Moynihan and Andy Newman contributed reporting.