Friday, September 1, 2017
Inspectors warn workers seconds before Fresh Meadows house collapse
Half a dozen construction workers were within seconds of disaster when the sharp eyes of two building inspectors noticed the top of the Queens building was about to collapse.
Building inspectors Joseph Martucci and Johnny Mendez were examining gas lines in a house across the street when their eyes shifted to the house being renovated. They quickly spotted movement that could trap a worker.
"Suddenly the building began to shift with one worker narrowly escaping," Martucci said.
He and Mendez dashed to the site and shouted for the other workers to get out of the way.
"When I saw that coming down, my goal was to see everybody was safe," Mendez said.
Work on the 2-story house on 181st street in Fresh Meadows began at the beginning of the month and workers were demolishing a portion of the house so they could add an extension.
Investigators from the Department of Investigation were on the scene to determine if any wrongdoing was involved.
Even before a full investigation is completed, the Buildings Department has filed four violations, including failure to safeguard the site. Each violation carries a potential fine of $25,000.