Cause of Deadly Manhattan Crane Collapse Under Investigation

In a tragic twist, the uncle of the worker who died was operating the crane

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A person injured in a crane accident on a construction site on 34th Street and 11th Avenue is taken out in what a high-angle rescue operation. This is raw video of the operation. (Published Tuesday, Apr 3, 2012)

    A day after a construction boom crane crashed to the ground at a construction site for the 7 subway extension, killing one worker and seriously injuring another, authorities are trying to figure out what caused the accident.

    In a tragic twist, NBC New York has learned that the crane was being operated by the uncle of the worker who died.

    Eyewitnesses tell investigators the crane was picking up a load with construction material when they heard a loud noise and saw the boom of the crane collapse.

    The MTA said work has been suspended on the site and that investigators from the city Buildings Department, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with police and prosecutors, were on the scene Wednesday.

    The head of MTA's capital construction has also ordered the inspection of all cranes at MTA work sites.

    The Manitowoc 4100 crane that collapsed Tuesday evening was set up on the second of three levels at the construction site on the West Side, city officials said. The FDNY said the boom came apart in two pieces — one 80 feet long and the other 40 feet long.

    Michael Simermeyer, 30, of Burlington, N.J., was identified as the worker who died in the accident. One other person was hospitalized in serious condition and three people were treated for minor injuries.

    Jack Sullivan, deputy chief for the FDNY EMS, described the removal of the workers from the construction site, about 60 feet below street level, as "extremely dangerous."

    Dozens of workers showed up to the site Wednesday morning, not knowing a stop-work order had been imposed.

    Joe Travers, a construction worker, says he knew Simermeyer. Travers described the man who died in the collapse as "just a nice guy" with whom he sometimes ate lunch.

    "It's horrible this tragedy happened to a friend," he said.

    Travers and the other workers who showed up to the construction site Wednesday were told to go home and return Thursday to pick up their paychecks.

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