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Agencies Probe Deadly Crane Collapse At 7 Train Extension Site

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TWC News: Agencies Probe Deadly Crane Collapse At 7 Train Extension Site
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Investigators are talking to witnesses and examining the wreckage to try to determine the cause of Tuesday night's deadly crane collapse at the 7-train extension construction site.

Michael Simmermeyer, 30, was killed when two pieces of a crane dislodged and crashed down at the site on Manhattan's West Side.

One section of the crane is said to have been 80 feet long.

Emergency responders had to conduct a difficult high-angle rescue to pull workers from a pit 60 feet below the surface.

"It was extremely dangerous because we had construction material that wasn't stable and the crane was leaning against the building, so it was an expedited removal but we had some difficulty because of the trauma," said FDNY Deputy Chief Jackie Sullivan.

"I knew him as a co-worker and friend. We would just go get lunch together," said Simmermeyer's co-worker Joe Travers.

"Just worked at the World Trade Center with him, and I worked with him here, once or twice. Good kid," said Simmermeyer's co-worker Kevin Hayes.

Simmermeyer was employed by a subcontractor.

MTA officials say the crane was a Manitowoc 4100, owned and operated by Yonkers Contracting.

Another worker, employed by Yonkers, suffered a leg injury in the collapse.

Witnesses reported hearing a cable snap just before 7:30 p.m., and seeing two parts of a crane dislodge and fall into the pit where workers were building the 7-train extension.

Work at the site has been halted while the MTA and the Buildings Department try to figure out the cause of the accident.

No negligence is suspected at this point in the investigation.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he's confident any issues regarding safety would be dealt with.

"We have a whole bunch of new laws that if you remember," Bloomberg said. "We're also incidentally pushing for a change in the exams that crane operators have to take. There's a, one of the unions is violently opposed to our crane operators that work here taking a national test."

The city tightened its rules surrounding the use of cranes following two deadly crane collapses in 2008. However, the city's regulations are different than those required for state agencies.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn also weighed in on the accident Wednesday and says state agencies should have to follow the same regulations for projects within the city, including submitting an engineer's report on the use and placement of certain equipment which would include cranes.

"We need the MTA and other state agencies to give the city oversight and authority at these construction sites," Quinn said. "In fact, the MTA should follow the lead of the Port Authority that has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the city around crane safety issues."

The MTA has ordered crane inspections at all of its construction sites and issued a statement of condolence to the Simmermeyer family.

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