VIDEO: Woman Injured at Gym by Flying Jackhammer Bit from UES Trash Station
By Kiratiana Freelon on July 9, 2014 1:04pm
UPPER EAST SIDE — A woman was injured when a piece of construction equipment from the controversial East 91st Street trash station smashed through the window of a nearby sports facility as she exercised Wednesday morning, according to officials and surveillance video.
The victim, Robin Cocking, a 59-year-old staffer in the technology department at the Asphalt Green complex, suffered cuts from broken glass after the item crashed through a fourth-floor window at the fitness center at 8:47 a.m.
"I was working out on the fourth floor and I saw something coming through the window," Cocking said Wednesday afternoon. "I thought if it is breaking the glass it has to be heavy and sharp but I don't remember reacting. I just remember kneeling in a pool of broken glass."
The 10-pound jackhammer chisel came from the Marine Transfer Station now under construction next door, confirmed a spokesman for the city's Department of Design and Construction, which oversees the project.
Cocking was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital for evaluation, but released by the afternoon, fire officials said.
"I only suffered minor cuts on my right hand, right foot and on my left arm," she said. "My hands are still shaking. I think I'm still shocked. I'm very lucky. I saw that chisel and if it would have hit me it could have been really serious. I'm OK now. I'm just tired and still shocked. "
The DDC temporarily shut down construction on the project and launched an investigation into the incident.
"We'll continue to maintain our vigilance at all construction sites through random safety audits," DDC spokesman Joe Soldevere said.
"We are relieved that the injury isn't more serious, but remain worried that this construction site is dangerous and puts the thousands of people using Asphalt Green at risk of serious injury," the group posted on their Facebook page.
Seven people were arrested in May during a protest against the cutting down of trees next to the complex to prepare for construction.
"It's a double-pane security window so this thing has to go through the window with incredible force to break it," Asphalt Green chief program officer Paul Weiss said.
The sports center personnel said that approximately 400 children attending a summer camp were on a ball field next to the construction site at the time of the incident.
"If the drill bit had fell on the other side, it could have hurt them. We asked the city to change the location of the ramp and they say it's too expensive, but how much is a life worth?" said former Asphalt Green director Carol Tweedy, who now acts as an adviser to the construction project on behalf of the athletic complex.