By Ben Fractenberg and Nicole Bode
EAST VILLAGE — A freak accident left a man hospitalized Tuesday after an air conditioner fell from an upper floor of a Second Avenue apartment building and bounced on an awning before striking him on the head, the FDNY and witnesses said.
The A/C window unit fell from the sixth floor of 65 Second Avenue, near East 4th Street, about 9 a.m. Tuesday, smashing into the fabric and metal awning of Winebar, the tapas bar in the building's storefront, before hitting East Village resident Tony Franzese, witnesses said.
A conflicting report from the Department of Buildings said that while the A/C unit did fall from the sixth floor and land on the awning, it was the awning, not the A/C unit, that actually hit the man.
Winebar owner Raymond Azzi, who said he lives in the apartment building above his store, said the navy blue cloth awning broke the unit's fall, shielding one of his employees working beneath.
"It saved his life," said Azzi, 45, who has owned Winebar for 15 years.
The metal bracing on the awning eventually crumpled, causing it to crash to the ground.
"I saw blood on his head," Julia Giordano, 61, who lives on the third floor, said of the Franzese.
Giordano said Franzese returned to his third-floor apartment before being taken to the hospital. "He left a blood trail up the stairs," she said.
"It was a freak accident," said Bruce Fuller, the owner of the A/C unit, before adding that he is acquainted with Franzese as they often run into each other while walking their dogs.
"He seems like a nice man," said Fuller, who has lived in the building for 23 years.
Tenants at the building said they are responsible for installing the A/C units themselves.
The city's Buildings Department issued a violation against the building, citing owner Zenon Chernyk for failing to properly maintain the building.
The violation ordered the building to "install required bracing on all air conditioners or remove units immediately."
A detached, crumpled A/C window unit lay on the sidewalk in front of the building Tuesday afternoon. DNAinfo could not confirm that it was the same unit that fell.
Franzese was taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition, a Fire Department spokesman said.