The Real Deal New York

Worker killed in Bed-Stuy wall collapse warned of safety hazards at site

September 07, 2015 12:34PM

656 Myrtle Avenue in Bed-Stuy.

656 Myrtle Avenue in Bed-Stuy.

The 19-year-old construction worker killed when a retaining wall collapsed at a work site in Bedford-Stuyvesant had warned of prior safety issues.

Fernando Vanegas often told his mother of close calls at 656 Myrtle Avenue, where he was converting a one-story structure to a five-story residential building, his parents said in an interview with the New York Times.

Vanegas and two other workers were buried under cinder blocks on Thursday when a support wall gave way.

A city official, speaking anonymously, told the Times that proper precautions had not been taken for excavation work. The structure was compromised due to a lack of support, the official said.

As The Real Deal reported, building owner Chaim Green had been issued violations for a loose strip of wood that had come loose on the pedestrian walkway. A month later, in May, DOB officials were notified anonymously that a rear wall was not stable and that construction workers were not wearing proper equipment for asbestos removal.

The DOB ordered the building be vacant and inspectors visited in May and in July. Workers were stabilizing the property on Thursday when the wall collapsed, a department spokesman said.

Several attempts to contact Green have been unsuccessful. [NYT]James Kleimann