Demolition has started on the abandoned Staten Island building where a teenager plunged seven stories to his death down an elevator shaft last week as friends and family mourned him at a wake.
Crews were at the site of the old Staten Island Hospital at 100 Castleton Ave. Wednesday, preparing to tear down the building, which has sat empty since the hospital relocated in 1979. But classmates of Marcos Castillo wondered why their friend had to die before someone took action.
"My cousin is dead. That building is 39 years it's been abandoned," said cousin Pablo Mendez. "It should have been taken down a long time ago."
"If they close it before, they break it down that building before, my son could be alive, but now it's too late," Castillo's father Jorge Rivera told NBC 4 New York Tuesday. "Why they wait too long?"
In fact, a company that acquired the property back in January filed a request with the city on June 19 for a full demolition of the eight-story building, records show. Three months later, on Sept. 25, the city said the site passed a pre-demolition inspection.
The demolition permit wasn't issued until Oct. 13, four days after Castillo fell to his death.
A buildings department spokesman said the contractor who won the bid for demolition had been working over the past few months to prepare the site and provide the city with construction plans for the "complex demolition" that would "ensure public safety throughout the process."
The company that bought the property, Shore Holding UK, LLC, has an address on Victory Boulevard on Staten Island. No one responded to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, a wake was held for Castillo Wednesday evening at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Benedicta Church, where funeral services will also be held the following morning.
"People really cared about him," said Mendez at the services Wednesday. "He had a future. HE wanted to be a cop."
He will be buried at Silvermount Cemetery, according to his obituary.