Crane Operator May Be to Blame in Crane Collapse

A crane collapse in Queens Wednesday is being attributed to error on the part of the crane operator, officials say.

The crane collapsed at a construction site at 46-10 Center Blvd. in Long Island City Wednesday afternoon, behind the famed neon Pepsi-Cola sign, injuring seven people, including three construction workers who had to be extricated. 

Buildings Department Commissioner Robert Limandri said it appears the crane operator attempted to lift a load of 23,900 pounds on the crane, more than double the weight capacity for the crane.

Limandri said the operator was unable to see the load being lifted and he was apparently trying to lift the materials outside the approved loading zone. 

The operator's license has been suspended, Limandri said. A stop work order for crane operations at the construction site remains in effect while the investigation continues. 

A 25-story residential building is being built on the site by developer TF Cornerstone. 

Carpenter Preston White said he was standing on scaffolding about 20 feet from the ground with some other carpenters when the cable on the crane snapped while moving a stack of wood.

"You could hear the cable snap, and it recoiled back toward the crane," said White. "Everybody started running out of that way because that was all that was coming, the cable. And you heard a snap, and the next thing you know, the crane just buckled and it came crashing down."

Randall Todd said he was walking his dogs nearby when he heard the sound of what he described as breaking metal.

He looked over and saw "the top horizontal arm of the crane dropping, but it folded on itself, accordion-style, including the vertical tower, which seemed to snap in half."

The work at the site was being carried out by subcontractor Cross Country Construction. The crane had been leased to Cross Country Construction by New York Crane. 

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