A crane collapse in Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood that killed one and injured three others Friday morning also caused disruptions for the legal community.
The map shows nearby buildings evacuated after the collapse.
The construction crane fell along Worth Street and across its intersection with West Broadway, damaging a portion of New York Law School, which cancelled all classes and activities until Monday.
The collapse also shuttered two Legal Aid NYC offices, the Innocence Project office and the New York County Supreme Court building. Attorneys and operations in those offices were moved to other facilities.
New York Law School, located at 185 W. Broadway, operates in several buildings along Worth Street. Silvia Alvarez, a spokeswoman for the school, said staff members and students were in the building when the accident occurred, but she was not aware of any injuries.
New York Law School Dean Anthony Crowell, who was at the school during the collapse, said the school would temporarily move its command center to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, located at One Hogan Place. “We’re doing our best to ensure that safety is paramount,” he said.
In a statement to faculty, staff and students Friday, Crowell said that damage to the school was still being assessed and that Consolidated Edison and the New York City Fire Department were checking the area for gas leaks.
Alvarez said that several emergency agencies, such as the Fire Department and police, were using the school’s space for meetings.
Law school professor Daniel Warshawsky was in the building when the crane fell. He came downstairs and saw that it had crushed a row of automobiles parked on Worth Street.
“I think what the school is doing is taking the utmost precautions,” he said.
The collapse shut down Legal Aid NYC’s offices at 49 Thomas St. and 40 Worth St. Many attorneys had not yet arrived for work when the crane fell, and those working in those buildings were not injured.
“Everyone was evacuated safely,” Legal Aid spokeswoman Pat Bath said.
Robert Harold heard a crashing sound as the rig fell right outside his office window at the Legal Aid Society.
“You could feel the vibration in the building,” said Harold, who recounted seeing onlookers trying to rescue someone trapped in a parked car and seeing a person lying motionless on the street.
Legal Aid lawyers working on Thomas Street were moved to the criminal courthouse at 100 Centre St. and those on Worth Street were transferred to the Family Court building at 60 Lafayette St.
Legal Aid support staff in the Thomas Street and Worth Street buildings were sent home, Bath said.
The Innocence Project office at 40 Worth St. was also evacuated, said spokesman Paul Cates, and staffers worked remotely on Friday. He said that some staffers had just arrived at the office when the collapse occurred, but that no one in their office was injured.
“Everyone is safe and sound, which we are all very thankful for,” Cates said.
The Manhattan Supreme Court, Civil Part, at 71 Thomas St. also closed and relocated to 60 Centre St. for Friday proceedings after the Fire Department reported a gas leak and the area was congested, said New York court spokesman David Bookstaver.
Bookstaver said he was not aware of any court personnel who were injured. “We made this decision very early today out of an abundance of caution,” he said.
Emergency crews blocked off streets surrounding the site of the collapse and the Franklin Street and Chambers Street subway stations for the No. 1, 2 and 3 trains were temporarily closed.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference that crews were working to secure the crane from high winds during a snow squall when the collapse occurred and that event had caused gas leaks in the area.
Officials said the rig had been replacing air conditioning equipment and generators on the roof of 60 Hudson St., a 425-foot-tall skyscraper that used to house Western Union and takes up an entire block. City building inspectors had been at the site just Thursday because the boom was being extended so it could reach farther onto the roof, the mayor said.
After the collapse, the roofs of several cars were crushed and the crane’s cab lay upside-down in the snow with its tank-like tracks pointed at the sky while the boom stretched down the street for nearly two blocks.
De Blasio said the streets near the site of the collapse would be closed for several days and it would be about that long before “things would be back to normal” in the area surrounding the site.
The Department of Buildings found no structural damage to any of the impacted buildings but will continue investigating the incident, according to the mayor’s office.
The collapse killed David Wichs, a Harvard-educated immigrant from Prague who worked at a financial trading firm. De Blasio had said Wichs was sitting in a parked car on Worth Street when he was killed but police later said he was on the sidewalk.
A woman in her 40s and a man in his 70s were in stable condition after being hit by falling debris, while a third person had minor injuries, according to several media reports.