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NYC crane collapse investigation yields arrest (3/24)

March 24, 2008
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The New York City crane collapse March 15 that killed seven people has resulted in the arrest of a city inspector. The inspector allegedly lied about checking on the crane in the weeks before it collapsed and decimated a Manhattan block, according to news reports.

The crane, which collapsed on the east side of midtown Manhattan, was being used in the construction of a 43-story luxury apartment building. It broke into pieces as it crashed down onto 51st street, not far from the United Nations building. The crane collapse destroyed a townhouse, and seriously damaged five other buildings.

Six workers from the construction site were killed in the collapse, as was a Florida woman visiting the city who was staying with a friend in the destroyed townhouse.

Damage from the New York City crane collapse, which officials said ranked among the city’s worst construction accidents, is expected to reach into the millions of dollars.

Edward Marquette, 46, was arraigned March 20 and released without bail on charges of falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing. Marquette was an inspector in the building department’s division of cranes and derricks.

The arrest came after investigators questioned Marquette on March 19. A complaint about the crane was logged March 4 to a city hotline, officials said, and Marquette said he inspected it. It was later determined he had not. Marquette has also been suspended from his job.

In the days prior to the crane collapse, neighbors in the area had lodged several complaints with the city about its safety.

In addition to Marquette’s suspension and arrest, buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster said that the department would be conducting a full audit of his inspection reports over the past six months, and also of the cranes and derricks unit. City officials also said they have started inspecting every construction crane in use around New York City.

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