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Man Dies In Collapse At Pastis Construction Site, Police Say

By Danielle Tcholakian | April 6, 2015 2:56pm | Updated on April 7, 2015 6:35pm
 This is a rendering of the Restoration Hardware currently under construction at 19 Ninth Ave. A construction worker died in an accident at the site on Monday, police said.
This is a rendering of the Restoration Hardware currently under construction at 19 Ninth Ave. A construction worker died in an accident at the site on Monday, police said.
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BKSK Architects

MEATPACKING DISTRICT — A 22-year-old man died after an accident at a construction site where restaurant Pastis used to be, police said.

The man has not been identified. Police said he was a construction worker at the site, which is being developed into a Restoration Hardware by Aurora Capital Associates, a co-owner of the property with William Gottlieb Real Estate.

"It’s certainly a tragedy and the police and the fire department are investigating what happened," said Marty McLaughlin, an attorney at Connelly McLaughlin & Woloz, who represents the developers.

Police said a 911 call came in about 12:15 p.m. reporting an unconscious man in need of medical help at 19 Ninth Ave. Officers arrived to discover the 22-year-old man unresponsive, police said.

Sources said the young man was part of a construction crew that had dug below the foundation of the building to make a wooden support form to shore up the building's facade. The 22-year-old man was inside the wooden structure, sources said, and as he tried to get out of it, dirt fell on him, burying him up to his neck.

When they dug the man out, he wasn't breathing, sources said.

Police said the man was rushed to the nearby Lenox Hill Healthplex in critical condition, and pronounced dead at the medical center. An investigation into the incident is ongoing, police said, and the Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death.

The Department of Buildings, which issues permits for construction, is at the site investigating, a spokesman said Monday afternoon.

DOB records show the fire department reported a man trapped in the site, which was being excavated, and asked that the DOB inspect "due to unsafe site" a little before 1 p.m. An FDNY spokesman said he was unable to immediately provide additional information about what happened.

The construction company issued a permit for the scaffolding at the site, Everest Scaffolding, declined to comment.

It was not immediately possible to speak with anyone at the contracting firm, Harco Consultants Corp, who had knowledge of the project.

The property owners, William Gottlieb Real Estate, have a handful of outstanding DOB violations, according to city records. The most recent involves a debt of $5,000 for a violation from 2011 for failing to maintain the building walls — inspectors reported cracks, missing concrete, exposed rusted steel and eroded mortar joints on the exterior of the building.

This is the second construction-related death in the area in less than a month. A West Village resident, Tram-Thuy Nguyen, was killed a few weeks ago on West 12th Street, when strong gusts of wind ripped a piece of plywood off the construction site around The Greenwich Lane, the luxury development being built where St. Vincent's Hospital once stood.

After Nguyen's death, the local community board passed a resolution urging the mayor to invest more resources in preventing construction site accidents and deaths.