What to Know
- A woman was struck and killed by falling debris in the heart of midtown Manhattan Tuesday, authorities said
- The accident happened on 49th Street, near Seventh Avenue, shortly after 11 a.m.
- The Department of Buildings called the case a tragedy, saying in a statement it was conducting a thorough investigation
A woman was struck and killed by falling debris in midtown Manhattan Tuesday shortly after 11 a.m., police said.
She was pronounced dead at the scene in front of 152 West 49th Street, police say.
The victim was 60 and had serious head trauma, police said. Police officials have identified the victim as Erica Tishman, who served on the board of the nonprofit Educational Alliance for more than a decade, three years of which as the first woman chair in the organization's 130-year history, the group said in a statement.
Based on Manhattan's Lower East Side, it offers programs including Head Start for preschoolers, hot meals for senior citizens, addiction treatment, art classes and more.
"Erica not only gave over her time, resources, and professional talent to EA, she was deeply connected to our community and staff," the statement read. " There is one word that encapsulates Erica: indefatigable. To every opportunity, meeting, or event, she always brought her full self. Her presence will always be felt in every corner of our organization."
A graduate of Harvard and Princeton universities, she also was on the board of a synagogue, according to her bio.
Building owner Himmel + Meringoff Properties said it was "saddened by this tragedy" and would fully cooperate with city officials.
No other details about the nature of the debris — bricks or some part of facade or other material — is known. Video posted to the Citizen app showed a heavy emergency presence, with police and fire engine sirens blaring in the heart of midtown.
The Department of Buildings is investigating and had engineers and inspectors at the scene to determine what exactly fell.
According to DOB complaints, inspectors noted facade issues with a building near the scene of the deadly incident. However, it is unclear if this is the same area where the debris broke off.
Inspectors issued a $1,250 violation to the building owner in late April for failure to maintain the facade. While the fine was paid, but the violation remained open because the owner didn't file paperwork confirming the conditions had been fixed.
"This is a tragedy, and the family and friends of the victim are in our thoughts. No pedestrian should be at risk from dangerous façade conditions," a spokeswoman with the department said in a statement.
Later on Tuesday, the DOB ordered the owner of the property to construct a sidewalk shed in the area around the property, in an effort to protect others passing by from potential falling objects.
Plummeting bricks, facade pieces and other debris have proven to be a deadly danger in New York before.
In 1979, a Barnard College student was killed when a chunk of concrete broke loose from a window ledge and plummeted nine stories. Her death prompted a city law that requires regular facade inspections for many buildings.
There have been other fatalities since, including the 2015 death of a 2-year-old killed by bricks tumbling from a window sill at a senior citizens' residence in Brooklyn.
"It's important to remember that many accidental deaths are preventable," state Sen. Brad Hoylman said after Tishman's death, which happened in the Democratic politician's district. "If there was any wrongdoing in this case, those responsible must be held to account to the fullest extent of the law."