Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Documents Said to Be Seized From Crane Owner’s Offices

Prosecutors investigating a fatal crane collapse on East 91st Street have taken away boxes of documents and computers from the offices of the crane’s owner, New York Crane and Equipment, two people involved in the inquiry said on Monday.

The investigation moved forward as insurers for the crane company acknowledged for the first time that the crane’s turntable — the device that swivels at the top of the tower — was a rebuilt version of one removed from another construction project on the West Side last spring after a dangerous crack was discovered in a steel part.

Bill J. Smith, president of claims and risk management for NationsBuilders Insurance Services, said that New York Crane had sent the damaged turntable to a welding company in New Jersey for repair after the crack was discovered in May 2007. The cracked part and other aging components were replaced, and the rebuilt turntable was welded back together, Mr. Smith said.

Investigators now believe that an inadequate weld on the rebuilt turntable is the cause of last Friday’s accident, in which the top of the crane broke away from the tower, killing two workers. Mr. Smith, who examined the turntable after the accident, said that a visual inspection of the weld suggested that it had not adequately penetrated the metal to “marry” the two pieces of steel that it was supposed to hold together.

But Mr. Smith also said that weld had been tested and inspected on two occasions by specialists and that each time it had been certified as having been properly done.


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