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Trial opens for crane rigger in NYC collapse

A reckless rigger's safety shortcuts caused a Manhattan crane collapse that killed seven people, a prosecutor said as the rigger's manslaughter trial began yesterday. His lawyer said the rigger was being unfairly blamed for bad decisions that set up a vulnerable tower of metal.

William Rapetti wiped tears from his face as the prosecutor recounted the March 2008 disaster, one of the nation's deadliest crane accidents, in a Manhattan courtroom crowded with relatives and lawyers representing those killed and hurt.

Rapetti used four polyester straps, one badly worn, when the crane's manufacturer called for eight to secure a nearly six-ton steel collar around the crane, and he ignored requirements to take steps to stop the straps from fraying against the crane's hard edges, prosecutors said.

Rapetti's lawyer, Arthur Aidala, said his own tests showed the straps were strong enough to hold the collar. The straps snapped only after something else gave way, he said. - AP

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