May 30th, 2008
02:57 PM ET

Crane collapse: What wasn't supposed to happen again, just happened...

Check out my video of the crane collapse from across the street of the accident
Check out my video of the crane collapse from across the street of the accident

David M. Reisner
360 Digital Producer

It wasn’t the way I expected to wake up. I was up rather late the night before… so I could have used hitting the ‘snooze’ button a few times. But the alarm went off, I got up, and began to hear the howl of fire-engines and the wail of ambulance sirens.

This happens a lot in NYC, as emergency vehicles barrel down these wide avenues to get to fires and emergencies all throughout the city. What made this different was that the sirens didn’t trail off... like the usually do. They grew louder. But it was the monotonous ‘thump-thump-thump’ of a helicopter… hovering… as if right over my apartment… that really woke me up. I knew it must be close, and I knew ‘this’ must be big.

I shot out of bed – flicked on the TV – and saw a local station reporting the collapse. I didn’t even need to see the street sign, or the read the information in the breaking news banner – I knew exactly where this was… Just 3 blocks away.

I grabbed my keys, my phone, my camera, and rushed out to the scene. Neighbors and people who work in the area were already spilling out into the streets to stare at the accident that lay across 1st Avenue.

Some say they heard a loud noise; a ‘snap’ – like a giant toothpick – One of our iReporters said the crane collapse sounded like a "prolonged car accident."

We quickly learned that the arm and cabin of the crane broke off, and slammed into an apartment building next door; First hitting (and crushing) the penthouse, then sliding down the side of the building… sheering entire balconies right off the structure…gouging entire pieces out of the building, leaving a trail of debris littered across first avenue. Imagine an object the size of a fire-truck driving down the side of a building…

I immediately began taking photographs (check them out here) and shooting some video (watch here)

After 20 minutes I ran back to the apartment, flipped open the laptop, powered on, and started sending the material into CNN. American Morning was on -air, and I knew I had to get some eyewitnesses on the phone, to share their story … so back out I went.

I start searching for voices to tell what happened, listening in on conversations, stories on the street; people recounting what they heard… But who actually saw it?

That’s when I met ‘Anthony’. Anthony works in construction and was working on an upper level of the high-rise to which the crane was attached. While everyone else on the street was repeating hearsay and rumors, I found him just looking up at the building… Quiet. He was playing something back in his mind… I went up and asked if he wanted to share his story… He hesitated at first, but after I insisted he would be helping people all over the city, and the country, better understand how this all happened… he took my phone.

Anthony shared his experiences with John Roberts and Kyra Phillips this morning, recounting exactly what he was thinking when the crane shook him, and began to collapse; “Everything goes through your head when you start seeing things like that happen," he said. "You think about your family, your wife, your kids. Just, thank God, you know, whoever is alive is alive."

Truth is I never felt comfortable about the construction site. I walk along 1st Avenue a lot, and whenever it comes time to cross the street at 91st and 1st… I go on the other side of the street. The crane’s base and several pieces of construction equipment take up one full lane of the road. This makes for horrendous traffic patterns, obscured sidewalks, and countless barricades. All while a crane (with heavy loads) swings 10 stories above my head. No thanks.

My mother is also not a fan of 91st street either. Every time she drives in to visit, she makes a point to speed past 91st st. She tells me she can’t explain it, but compares it to the feeling of walking under a ladder… I totally understand what she means.

Coming on the heels on what happened a few months ago in NYC – a crane collapse that killed 7 people and left 24 injured… its another unnecessary unfortunate tragedy for the Upper East Side.

Something that wasn’t supposed to happen again, just happened…

Filed under: Crane Collapse
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Bren from Atlanta

    In Atlanta after we had numerous attempted suicides on these things, the city started instituting fines for unsafe conditions or unsafe cranes. Maybe that's the "ticket"?

    May 30, 2008 at 11:15 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    How many cranes have to collapse before inspectors do their job effectively and make sure these cranes don't endanger life or property. I sure don't want to be around a big crane any time soon.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 30, 2008 at 10:07 pm |
  3. Janna

    This is inexcusable. After the last accident, lack of inspections were revealed and promises were made... I think it's time for 360 to keep them honest!
    My prayers go out to the family of the construction worker who never should have been at this level of risk. This is the second time I had to check if my friends were ok....I used to live 6 blocks from this corner.

    May 30, 2008 at 8:03 pm |
  4. Lilibeth

    All these crane collapses of late are very disconcerting. They happened within a few months of each other and they're all in NYC. What's going on? If I live in NYC, I'd be avoiding cranes like the plague.

    Edmonds, Washington

    May 30, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  5. Cindy

    It seems that after the last crane collapse that they would have done things differently to ensure that it would never happen again. It is sad that someone died but it could have been a whole lot worse killing way more people. At least that didn't happen.

    May 30, 2008 at 3:10 pm |