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Investigation into crane company involved in accident

January 10, 2013 3:12:43 PM PST
There are new questions about a crane accident in Queens that injured seven people.

The city had inspected that crane in Long Island City just four days before it came crashing down Wednesday.

The same company was involved in another major crane collapse that killed two people.

The numbers tell the story. Five serious crane accidents in less than a year's time; two workers dead and 13 injured.

A record that had one engineer calling New York the Capital of Crane Accidents.

Engineers from the Buildings Department gathered evidence Thursday from the scene of the city's latest crane accident. If they learned anything new, they weren't saying.

"Can someone tell me the latest on the investigation?" Eyewitness News Investigative reporter Jim Hoffer said.

"I can't!" the investigator said.

Eyewitness News has learned that the Buildings Department inspected the crane just four days before the boom collapsed.

The crane is owned by New York Crane and Equipment run by James Lomma. He was acquitted last year of all charges connected to a 2008 tower crane collapse that killed two workers.

"What do you have to do to be banned from bidding in New York City," said Councilman Peter Vallone, Public Safety Chair.

The head of City Council's Public Safety Committee says Lomma's cranes should be banned from New York.

"Just because he was acquitted doesn't mean he should be doing business in the city. The testimony at that trial was overwhelmingly shown he cut corners, was negligent," Vallone said.

Eyewitness News went to New York Crane's headquarters in Queens to get a response.

The company wasn't talking but a worker told Eyewitness News while he had no information about the accident, he said the crane was good and it was signed off by the Buildings Department.

"It took one second to break," an eyewitness said.

Eyewitness News has learned that in the past year, there's been a serious crane accident about every 10 weeks.

Last February at the World Trade Center, a cable snapped causing steel beams to fall hundreds of feet to the street.

In April, a crane collapsed on the West Side killing one worker.

In October, a crane nearly toppled during Sandy. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

Last month, a worker was crushed to death when an industrial cooling unit fell from a crane.

"This has to stop," said Marc Bern, a construction safety attorney.

Marc Bern has spent years representing workers killed in crane accidents. He says the city's hiring of more inspectors and expansion of training and regulations has changed little.

"Why is the city not doing its job. How do they let these cranes go up even with the slightest possibility of this happening?" Bern said.

Eyewitness News made repeated attempts to get a response from the Buildings Department. We are still waiting.

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Follow Jim Hoffer on Twitter at twitter.com/nycinvestigates and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimhoffer.wabc

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