Two construction workers charged with assault in connection to mini crane collapse in Harlem

Two workers were seriously injured

TRD New York /
Nov.November 08, 2018 04:25 PM

Timothy Braico and images of 146 East 126th Street (Credit: Western Specialty Contractors and CityRealty)

Two construction workers face felony assault charges connected to a mini crane collapse in Harlem that severely injured two others working on the site.

Timothy Braico, 41, and Terrence Edwards, 39, on Thursday were charged with two counts of second-degree assault and of second-degree reckless endangerment, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced. The two men, both employees of Missouri-based Western Specialty Contractors, are accused of ignoring safety protocols that led to a mini crane collapsing at Blumenfeld Development Group’s 146 East 126th Street, a 233-unit apartment building designed by Bjarke Ingels.

Braico, a branch manager for Western’s facades division in Ridgefield, New Jersey, is accused of ordering a mini crane to be delivered to the site even though none of the workers were trained to operate the machine. He also allegedly hadn’t secured the required approvals from the Department of Buildings.

On June 25, Edwards, a superintendent with Western, directed union ironworkers Christopher Jackson and Jorge Delgado to work below the crane, which was being operated by a worker who didn’t understand the machine’s capacity and wasn’t told to tether the crane, according to authorities. As the machine lifted a heavy glass panel for the facade, it fell forward, overturned and crashed to the ground. The crane’s boom hit Jackson and threw him to the ground, resulting in a serious brain injury that has affected his ability to speak and to walk, according to officials. Delgado was hit in the back and has spinal injuries that affect his ability to walk and move.

“These defendants knowingly skirted DOB safety protocols to speed up their project, resulting in devastating, life-changing injuries for two workers when a mini crane fell from the fourth floor, catapulting one as it hurtled to the ground,” Vance said in a statement.

Braico had been promoted from superintendent to branch manager only a month before the incident. Edwards’ LinkedIn indicates he was promoted to superintendent around the same time.

Western avoided charges through a deferred prosecution agreement, under which the company hired an independent monitor, increased safety training for workers, and funded public service announcements about safety in English and Spanish. A representative for Western said that the company continues to cooperate with authorities. It wasn’t immediately clear if Edwards and Braico still work for the company. The site’s general contractor, ZDG, wasn’t charged.

Last year, the DOB announced stricter regulations for using mini cranes, defined as mobile cranes that have booms no longer than 50 feet and can lift up to three tons. In response to a spike in the use of such machines, the city began requiring crane operators to be trained for the specific make and model of the crane they operate. Contractors must also submit to the DOB engineer plans on how the crane will be used and where it will be tethered.

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