Updated 05/30/2009 06:33 PM
Mourning Family Marks Crane Collapse Anniversary
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Saturday marked the first anniversary of the deadly crane collapse in Manhattan that killed two construction workers last May.
Ramadan Kurtaj, 27, and Donald Leo, 30, died when the top part of a 200-foot crane crashed down on 91st Street and First Avenue on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Uke and Reyve Kurtaj, Ramadan's parents, traveled from Kosovo to the Upper East Side on Saturday to place a picture of their 27-year-old son at a makeshift shrine set up at the site. They were so overcome with grief that they had to sit down.
"It's a big loss for me, it's hard for me. I lost my son, 27 years old, it's very hard," said Uke Kurtaj through a translator.
Kurtaj's family remembered Ramadan as a gentle, kind person and a hard worker who wanted to bring his parents to visit New York.
"They would never believe that they'd be coming to the United States under these circumstances," said Xhevahire Sinanaj, Kurtaj's cousin. "Their dream was different way, to be with their son. And now that they're here and he is gone, it's very hard for them. They're very sad."
The victims' families have sued the city, the Department of Buildings, several construction companies and others for wrongful death.
Their lawyers say the crane involved in the accident was put into service despite a history of poor maintenance and reckless repairs.
The Manhattan district attorney's office is still continuing its criminal investigation
into the incident.
"Ramadan's life was sacrificed because of this, so all these companies save money on his life. This is wrongful death, this is a crime," said Sinanaj.
As of Saturday, no criminal charges had been filed against anyone involved in this crane collapse, but the Kurtaj family and their lawyer Susan Karten hoped that will change soon.
"That there will be accountability here at the end of the road, that the parties that are responsible, a jury will find them so, and that this family will get some peace of mind, some justice. Because they will never get their son back," said Karten.
Meantime, construction work continues on the site, where a luxury apartment building is expected to rise.