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Widow of crane collapse victim to file lawsuit, legal papers say

David Wichs is shown here in a photo

David Wichs is shown here in a photo from his wife Rebecca Guttman's Facebook page. Wichs was killed in a crane collapse on Friday Feb. 6, 2016. Credit: Rebecca Guttman via Facebook

The widow of the stock market mathematician killed in last month’s crane collapse in lower Manhattan plans to file a lawsuit over his death, according to filings in Surrogate’s Court.

Rebecca Wichs was the wife of David Wichs, 38, who was killed the morning of Feb. 5 as he walked on Worth Street when a 565-foot-tall crawler crane collapsed while it was being secured against gusting winds.

Officials said the crane was being operated by Galasso Trucking and Rigging of Maspeth when it fell onto Worth at West Broadway. Three other people were injured in the accident.

In an affidavit filed with the court, attorney John P. Proszak, who represents Rebecca Wichs, said the husband’s estate “will be initiating a wrongful death” lawsuit. Rebecca Wichs is the administrator of her husband’s estate and was recently granted authority by Surrogate’s Court to file a lawsuit for damages and to take other action, records show.

The court papers didn’t indicate how much in damages the planned lawsuit would seek. Under New York State law, wrongful-death claims have to be filed within two years of death. Typically, damages sought can take into account the deceased’s projected lost earnings, pain and suffering and funeral costs, according to legal experts. Relatives of a high-income accident victim, which David Wichs appeared to be, can ask for millions of dollars.

Wichs, who worked at the investment firm Tower Research Capital, died from what the court papers described as “blunt impact injuries” when he was struck by the crane, a Liebherr 1300 owned by Bay Crane. Wichs’ estate was valued at under $3 million, although court papers didn’t enumerate his various assets. He and his wife had no children.

Proszak, a partner at the Mineola law firm Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone, didn’t return a number of telephone calls and emails seeking comment.

It was unclear who would be sued in any wrongful death case by the Wichs estate. Officials at Galasso Trucking didn’t return a call for comment. Officials at Bay Crane of Long Island City weren’t available for comment.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office and the city Department of Investigation have launched probes into the deadly crane collapse, which also destroyed a number of parked cars and damaged some buildings on Worth Street. Investigators said they are looking into possible human error, mechanical problems and wind conditions.

On Tuesday, an official at Liebherr-International Deutschland Gmbh, the German company which produces the Liebherr line of cranes, said as part of the New York investigation city officials took the computerized record of the operation of crane at the time of the accident. The crane also had wind speed gauges along the boom and jib sections, the official noted.

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