Friday, February 1, 2008

Family Mourns Loss Of Man Who Died In Fall From Scaffolding

Family members are mourning the loss of a man who died Wednesday during his first day on the job at a non-union construction site in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.

Police say 43-year-old construction worker Jose Palacios plummeted 13 floors to his death when a scaffolding collapsed on Clinton Avenue.

Officials with the Department of Buildings say fast winds caused the scaffolding to give way.

Co-workers say they tried to save him, but that it was already too late.

"I felt he was gone," said fellow construction worker Ricardo Uribe. "His face swelled up. Immediately when I got to him, when the scaffold fell, we already had a lot of blood."

Uribe said it was Palacios' first day on the job.

Another man was also hurt in the accident when he fell from the 13th floor down to a ledge on the 10th floor. He's listed in serious condition at an area hospital.

Palacios' nephew, who also works in construction, says they had talked about work safety recently, just after a worker died after falling hundreds of feet from a building in Manhattan.

"It's very dangerous on the scaffold," said nephew Octavio Solis. "He said, 'don't worry, don't worry. I'm safe,'"

Palacios leaves behind a wife and 17-year-old daughter in Mexico City. He left them behind once before when he came to the States seeking more opportunities.

"He comes here for work, to give his family a better life. Just for that," nephew Octavio Solis.

Now his family in the States, the niece and nephew he lived with in Astoria, Queens, have the grueling task of telling his family in Mexico.

"All his family is in Mexico. How are we [going to] talk to them?" said Solis.

Palacios' mother's health is fragile, Solis says.

"She's 74 years. She's old. She's sick with diabetes. She could die, too," said Solis.

The DOB had sent out an advisory Wednesday morning about the high winds, urging all builders, contractors, developers and property owners to secure their construction sites and buildings.

But officials still don't know exactly what caused the scaffolding to collapse.

Clinton Court Development, the company running the site where Palacios died, was issued six violations at the Fort Greene project in November 2006, including failure to provide horizontal safety netting and guard rails.

Buildings officials say they're looking into whether those violations were ever addressed.

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