MANHATTAN — Authorities were unable to inspect the piece of the crane that collapsed at a Hell's Kitchen MTA construction site, killing a worker and seriously injuring another, during a routine check earlier this year and scheduled a full review for just two days after the accident occurred, according to documents released by the MTA Wednesday.
The revelation came as the agency scrambled to inspect the cranes at its major construction sites around the city including the Second Avenue Subway, the East Side Access Project and the Fulton Transit Center.
The fatal accident unfolded at the construction site for the MTA’s extension of the No. 7 subway line on 34th Street and 11th Avenue Tuesday evening, when the 40- and 80-foot sections of the crane — which had a 170-foot boom — fell to the ground.
Although fire officials at the scene said the accident was likely the result of a snapped cable, the investigation into what caused the collapse is ongoing. A witness also told DNAinfo that the cable supporting the crane's boom snapped.
The Buildings Department performed its annual inspection on the crane in July 2011, when inspectors determined the piece of equipment had “no deficiencies,” according to information provided by the MTA.
On January 10 of this year, the DOB again attempted to inspect the crane — this time to change the annual inspection cycle to begin in February, instead of July.
That report indicated there were no deficiencies with the crane, which is operated by Yonkers Contracting Company.
But because the crane was in operation during the inspection, the DOB was only able to inspect part of the rig.
“Crane cannot be laid down to inspect boom section, safetys only checked, ok to issue 3 month extenstion’ (sic),” the DOB document said. They planned to return to the site on April 5 — just two days after the accident.
The fallen crane killed construction worker Michael Simmermeyer, 30, of Burlington, N.J., who worked for subcontractor J & E Industries LLC.
Simmermeyer's friends said Wednesday that he had worked at the World Trade Center site in the fall before moving onto the 7 train project.
"I know he felt good about the jobs," said Tim Kugler, a friend who went to Burlington City High School with Simmermeyer. "He was a hard worker. He was reliable."
The accident prompted City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to call for increased city oversight at construction sites manned by the MTA, a state public authority.
"When city officials were on site last night, the information I've been beginning to receive is that they were already eyeballing problems that they believe would have been violations," Quinn said at a press conference on Wednesday.
"The state must follow New York City safety regulations when working in our city."
Under existing rules, cranes at MTA sites must obtain their annual operating certificates from the DOB, but other construction activities are governed by state regulations.
“The MTA is examining the speaker’s proposal to put all MTA construction activity under the inspection authority of the New York City Department of Buildings,” the agency said in a statement.
The DOB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.