I-Team: Water Main Break Occurred Before Crane Collapse, Construction Logs Show - NBC New York
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I-Team: Water Main Break Occurred Before Crane Collapse, Construction Logs Show

The collapse of the 15-story boom killed a Wall Street worker and injured three other people

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    Investigators trying to determine what caused February's deadly crane-collapse in Tribeca will assess wind conditions that day and whether the rig was properly secured. But some now question whether clues might be found underground. Pei-Sze Cheng reports. (Published Friday, June 3, 2016)

    Investigators trying to determine what caused February's deadly crane-collapse in Tribeca will assess wind conditions that day and whether the rig was properly secured. But some now question whether clues might be found underground.

    The city has said a water main break occurred below Worth street after the 565-foot crane toppled to the ground, killing a pedestrian. But a construction log book for a project at 60 Hudson place obtained by the News 4 I-Team states that a water main break happened at least a day before the crane collapse.

    The Feb. 4 log reads, "water main break; Worth Street under crane."

    Water from the break gushed into the basement at 60 Hudson Street and a draining system designed to alleviate flooding pumped the water into the sewer system and catacombs below, according to sources familiar with the construction project.

    The timetable of the water main break calls to question whether the use of the crane should have been suspended.

    Elan Parra, an attorney and consultant who specializes in construction, suggests that investigators talk to structural engineers about what effect the water main break might have had on stability of the crane.

    “Investigators getting this new information will want to also look at if there was any potential that the street might have been compromised or effected by this," he said. "Logically, where there's water, there's movement."

    Sources said that building managers at the 60 Hudson Street site raised concerns about the stability of the ground beneath the crane before it lifted heavy equipment to the top of the building, but no structural engineer was consulted.

    Sources said they called the city's 311 line at least twice to report their concerns. The city Department of Environmental Protection said it has no record of the calls.

    "There are no reports of a water main break on Hudson or Worth Streets in the vicinity of the crane collapse in the days leading up to the incident," a spokesperson said.

    However, a 311 call about the water main break was made at 6:16 a.m. on Thursday, the day before the crane toppled. The call "refers to a report of water coming up from the ground at Broadway and Worth Street, 2 1/2 blocks from the crane collapse."

    The record shows the complaint was closed.

    Tribeca resident Bruce Ehrmann was stunned by the revelation about the timing of the water main break.

    "One would think that upper management would say, 'no, we are halting operations for now,'" he said.

    The crane collapse, which killed 38-year-old David Wichs and injured others, happened in state senator Daniel Squadron's district. He said he believes investigators need to look into the water main break as a potential clue to what occurred.

    "Never did this possibility come up, so it really could potentially change everything," Squadron said. "There's no doubt that it's a factor, that needs to be public, needs to be understood and we need to know what role if any role that it played."

    Neither the owners of the building nor those in charge of the construction project at 60 Hudson Street would comment for this story.

    The I-Team also reached out to the crane operator GTI or Galasso several times but they did not return calls for comment.

    After the collapse, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised a 90-day review. That deadline has passed and no report has been issued.

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