DEADLY COLLAPSE

NY Post - October 08, 2006

by FRANK RYAN, LORENA MONGELLI and ERIKA MARTINEZ

Heroic hardhats dramatically freed six co-workers trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building in Queens yesterday before leaping to a neighboring roof with the men in their arms, but tragically they could not save one - an expectant father.

Daniel Basilio, 29, died from head injuries after the top floor of a four-story building on Roosevelt Avenue crumpled.

Relatives said Basilio's wife, Alicia, back in Mexico is due to deliver their second child any day now.

"The reason he came to this country was to work and help his family. To help his wife and child, and also to help his parents," his brother-in-law Juan Fuentes told The Post last night.

"That's what kind of person he was," said Fuentes, 35.

He said that the family still hasn't told Alicia that her husband has died, so as not to aggravate her condition.

"We're afraid that she could lose the baby," said Fuentes.

Basilio has worked construction here for about 10 years, and had last been his home country in December.

"It's a tragic situation," said longtime friend Gregory Chavez. "He was just like anybody. He would go to work and come back on the weekend and have a couple of beers."

Cops and city officials said it appeared steel beams were unable to sustain the weight of concrete being poured on the roof.

Cops and firefighters rushed to the scene between 104th and 108th streets just before 10 a.m. to find the entire fourth floor destroyed - and had to climb over eight feet of rubble to reach the men.

"When we got to the collapse, the workers were on the roof of the adjacent building," said Detective David Halinski, who was first on the scene with a dozen Emergency Service rescuers.

"It was a pretty dangerous situation," he said. Halinski said many of the victims were unconscious as cops and firefighters used a pulley to lower them to the street.

The cop said that he desperately tried to revive Basilio, who later died at New York Hospital in Queens.

"I guess it could have been a lot worse, but one person died," the detective said. "I feel bad for his family."

One of the survivors, who helped free his colleagues said, "We did what we could to help."

"Of course, I'm glad I'm all right," said the laborer, who identified himself as Joe. "This is a dangerous business."

"We were pouring cement when it happened. We don't know how it collapsed," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings said the contractor, Galindo Ferriera, had a permit to construct a five-unit residential building.

The spokeswoman said there were no complaints about the new structure, but one of the previous buildings located at the site had received seven complaints. That structure was demolished earlier this year.

She said three violations were immediately issued against Ferriera because the company did not have a permit to work on weekends, was working without approved plans and "failed to protect the public." The company faces fines up to $5,000.

Engineers tried to determine if the remaining structure was safe. Residents of two neighboring buildings were evacuated and No. 7 train service was temporarily suspended.

Part-owner Poli Ferriera said everything at the site was up to code. "We feel bad for the workers, of course," he said.