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Violations Issued to Construction Company in Harlem Scaffold Collapse

By Jeff Mays | September 20, 2011 7:41pm
Workers demolish part of a building that partially collapsed along with its scaffolding Tuesday.
Workers demolish part of a building that partially collapsed along with its scaffolding Tuesday.
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DNAinfo/Jeff Mays

HARLEM — The Department of Buildings is expected to issue several violations against the construction company that was carrying out the demolition of a building that partially collapsed along with its scaffolding on 125th Street, injuring 18 people Tuesday morning.

"We will be issuing violations to the contractor [Disano Demolition]," said a spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings, declining to cite specifics.

Six violations will be issued against Queens-based Disano Demolition while the owner of the building will face one violation, said Councilwoman Inez Dickens, whose office has been following up on the accident.

"They found equipment that should not have been on the site and the demolition was not done correctly," said Dickens.

Violations will be issued for illegal mechanical equipment found on the site as well as an improper course of demolition, among other problems, said Dickens. The demolition, being done in stages, should have been completed in a certain order to prevent problems, she claimed.

Neither Disano Demolition nor the building's owner could be reached for comment. HH Building Construction, listed on city permits as the company who installed the scaffolding, declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday evening.

Approximately 18 people were hurt when the scaffolding and pieces of the building collapsed onto a BX15 bus at about 9:26 a.m. Tuesday morning at 301 West 125th St., near near Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Eight people were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

"My initial concern was for life," said Dickens who was on the scene and soon found out the injuries were not deadly. "My next thoughts were: What the hell happened? How does this occur?" she said.

Those on the scene described a desperate scramble to escape as it became evident that the scaffolding was coming down.

Monique Key, 43, a student at United Business Institute was waiting under the scaffolding for the bus to take her to class when she heard the structure collapsing.

"All the bricks and scrap metal fell on top of the scaffolding and the scaffolding came down," she said. "I turned and looked and you could see the whole thing coming down. I took flight."

"I was frightened. I was trying to get out of the way of death," she added.

The construction site had one complaint against it for falling bricks on Sept. 7.

Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway said the complaint was investigated but inspectors saw no reason to issue a violation.

Holloway said it was "lucky" that no one was seriously injured.

Tracy Williams, 49, a homemaker, said she passes underneath the building regularly and always heard bricks falling onto the scaffolding.

"If you were standing on the opposite side of Eighth Avenue waiting for the light you see the bricks falling and falling. People would stand their and say that's a disaster waiting to happen," she said.

"I was scared, but I didn't know who to complain to," she added. "When you hear those bricks hit, you don't know what's going to happen next."

Dickens said she wants a full investigation done to insure the safety of passersby and workers.

"Thank God we did not have fatalities like the crane collapse on the East Side but we could have. This is a wake up call. The question is what are we going to do about it."