Saturday, March 6, 2010

March 6, 2010

James Lomma is set to turn himself in and face Manslaughter charges. He is the owner of New York Crane which had the Kodiak Tower Crane that collapsed on 91st Street.

I've told the back story before, so i'll be brief. The crane was taken down in an emergency just under two years before the collapse. The Oiler on the crane was lubing the crane in the turntable when he saw daylight coming through the tub at the flange that transitions between the round tub and the bearing connection. I'm told that this connection on those old Kodiaks was 3 inches thick, so daylight should normally have difficulty in penetrating this.

After the crane was dismantled the shopping began. A Ohio company bid $120,000 + compared to $20,000 bid by a Chinese company. When the Chinese company got a better understanding of what it is they needed to do they tried to decline the work but some how, they were convinced that they could to the work . Less than a year after the crane went back up, it collapsed killing two men, stopping a job, taking out multiple apartments, etc.

The other part of the story is that the man whom approved the repairs from the city was a former employee of New York Crane. The previous head of the Department of Buildings Crane Division was concerned about the repair as she left. She started an email chain that ended with a former employee accepting the repair. I would suggest that it would be a good practice for the Department of Buildings to have their employees recuse themselves from any case where impartiality might come into question. It may not have made a difference here, but it's good practice.

I'm not for people going to jail for mistakes. Much of the talk in the crane world is that there was some crane grease thrown out to get the repair company to perform the work. If this is what the prosecutors are finding, I'm all for prosecution. We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our equipment for the general public and the users. If the crane was not going to be able to be made safe in a cost effective manner, then it's 24 years of service should have been the end of the crane's service life and the death of these two men is no accident. Time will ferret out the truth.

New York Times Full Story

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