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Construction Worker Dead, Two Others Hurt in Roof Collapse in Fort Greene

By  Trevor Kapp and Dan Rivoli | September 10, 2012 10:13am | Updated on September 10, 2012 8:39pm

FORT GREENE — Two construction workers were injured, one fatally, when the roof of a building on Carlton Avenue collapsed Monday morning, officials said.

The victims became trapped in the basement of 227 Carlton Ave., a two-family brownstone near Willoughby Avenue, when the roof of structure crumbled, the FDNY said.

Ignatius Regis, a member of the construction crew working on the site, said he tried to help his buried colleagues.

"I tried to run down to the basement to dig them out, but there was too much load," Regis, 55 said. "We were using our bare hands at the time."

Emergency responders raced to the construction site at 9:15 a.m. and pulled the men from a pile of rubble after a frantic 20 minutes, officials said.

"They did not look well," said Alex Sichel, 49, who lives a few doors down, of the workers. "They were all covered in dust. One was bleeding from the head."

One of the workers, a 67-year-old man, was taken to Brooklyn Hospital, where he died.

"Today is a sad day on this construction site," said Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri. "It was simple home construction."

The NYPD said the man's name would not be released until his family was notified.

The other man was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he was in serious but stable condition. One firefighter suffered minor injuries and was taken to New York Methodist Hospital, officials said.

The workers were part of a five-man construction crew for Professional Grade Construction on the top floor of the four-story building. They were receiving cinder blocks and other material — likely delivered by a truck — when support beams gave way, LiMandri said.

“The floor was not structurally stable to be able to handle the load and the five workers,” LiMandri said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

As the two victims plunged some 30 feet, two of the workers made a dramatic leap to an adjoining roof, said FDNY Deputy Assistant and Brooklyn Borough Commander Chief James Leonard. The other worker hanged off the collapsed area until he could pull himself to safety, Leonard added.

Paramedics evaluated the men at the scene, but they refused medical attention, Leonard added.

Professional Grade Construction, which is based in Brooklyn, received a permit for the site in February, officials said.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Forensic engineers and fire marshals were on scene investigating the delivery of materials and the cause of the collapse.

"There's two things we will be looking at," LiMandri said. "In this simple home construction, when you're making a delivery, we'll want to know what they were delivery onto the floor, we'll want to see how this was constructed and we'll want to know the activity that was going.

"We'll be calculating the weight and identifying those responsible who allowed that delivery to occur," he added. "It was either in the act of the delivery or immediately following. In either case, the floor was not structurally stable to be able to handle the load and the five workers."

Regis said the man delivering construction material already had several pallets of cinder block on the roof. A supervisor tried to stop more weight from being placed on the roof, noticing the floor was shaking, he added.

"It was too late," he said.

There was a violation for the site, but it was unrelated to Monday's accident, LiMandri added. A full stop work order at the site until inspectors finished their investigation, he added.

"Until we understand the means and methods that was done here [Monday] that caused this collapse and fatality," LiMandri said, "we will not let them go back to work."