Worker Dies in 5-Story Elevator Fall at School Construction Site: Officials

By Aidan Gardiner and Jeanmarie Evelly  on June 5, 2014 9:16am  | Updated on June 5, 2014 5:46pm

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 Fire trucks at the scene of an incident in Sunnyside where a worker fell down an elevator shaft to his death at the site of the future P.S. 313 on June 5, 2014.
Worker Dies After Fall at School Construction Site
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QUEENS — A construction worker who was not connected to a safety line was killed Thursday morning when he fell five stories down an elevator shaft at a work site for a forthcoming Sunnyside school, officials said.

Police responded to a 911 call at 8:15 a.m. at 45-45 42nd St., where they say 26-year-old Thomas Patane, of Staten Island, fell down the elevator shaft from the fifth floor of the building. He died on the way to Elmhurst Hospital, police said.

A preliminary investigation by the Department of Buildings found that Patane had been standing on a platform inside the elevator shaft when he fell, and had been wearing a safety harness. But it was not connected to a life line, according to the agency.

"I saw everybody rushing toward the elevator, saying somebody fell," said Peter Petrano, who was working at the site at the time of the incident. "I saw people going toward the shaft, looking down the elevator shaft. That’s where he was."

A second worker also fell from the second to the first floor, according to the DOB. That man's safety harness was secured to a life line and his injuries appeared to be non-life threatening. 

The workers had been installing new elevators at the site, which was placed under a full stop work order, the DOB said.

A spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is investigating the incident, said the men were employed by Hudson Elevator Group.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our employee and our sincere sympathies go out to his family," the Staten Island-based elevator company said in a statement. "At this time, as this tragic accident is under investigation, we cannot comment any further."

The Sunnyside building is slated to open as P.S. 313 in September, the FDNY said. The $57 million elementary school will house a clocktower, an interior courtyard and a rooftop play area, according to plans.

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