Federal officials allege that a combination of operator error and poor oversight contributed to February’s collapse of a giant crane in TriBeCa that killed a Wall Street mathematician.
In a notice filed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration against Galasso Trucking & Rigging, Inc. of Queens on Aug. 3, agency officials alleged that the company didn’t comply with a key operational requirement of the crane manufacturer about lowering the crane’s boom.
OSHA also contended that the crane operator didn’t adjust the crane’s operations to account for wind and snow on the morning of Feb. 5, when the 565-foot-long apparatus fell onto Worth Street, killing David Wichs, 38, and injuring others.
OSHA also alleged Galasso didn’t communicate to employees the proper standards for operating in wind, ice and snow. The company also didn’t comply with the crane manufacturer’s procedure that the boom angle not been lower than 75 degrees, the notice alleged.
An attorney for Galasso did not return a call for comment Thursday.
The giant crane, which officials said was owned by Bay Crane of Long Island City, collapsed while the boom was being lowered to a secure position in the face of rising wind gusts, according to city officials. Bay Crane was not accused of wrongdoing in the OSHA notice.
A Department of Labor spokesman said the OSHA case was still pending against Galasso and that it could be several months before a hearing occurs, unless the matter is settled. OSHA is asking for $22,448 in penalties against Galasso.
The crane operator is not mentioned by name in the OSHA documents, but he was identified in court papers as Kevin Reilly of Port Jefferson. Reilly could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Wichs’s widow Rebecca Wichs has filed a lawsuit in Manhattan state Supreme Court over his death, listing Galasso Trucking, Bay Crane Service, Reilly and others as defendants. Also suing is Thomas O’Brien, a Massachusetts man who sustained head, neck and back injuries in the collapse.
Jonathan Damashek, who represents O’Brien, said both lawsuits will likely be consolidated soon. He said that next week attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants will be inspecting the mangled crane pieces, which are stored in Brooklyn.
Attorneys for Rebecca Wichs and Bay Crane did not return calls for comment Thursday.