Manhattan Companies Face Manslaughter Charges After Construction Accident Death In Spring
New York prosecutors announced on Wednesday, August 5th, that they have filed criminal charges against two subcontractor construction companies and their managers for the construction accident death of an immigrant worker this past April.
Carlos Moncayo, a 22-year-old Ecuadorean immigrant, died in a construction accident in April this year, when the walls protecting a construction site in the meat-packing district collapsed and he was crushed to death by the surrounding dirt.
Reportedly, the construction companies involved ignored safe work conditions, even to the point that an on-site inspector frantically attempted to stop work on the site the morning of the construction accident.
While construction work is a tough and dangerous job, federal and state regulations help monitor safety practices and require specific safety features on site at all times. Unfortunately, to save money, construction companies are believed to hire untrained or under trained workers on a contractual basis seeking to avoid workers compensation coverage. In the last few years, many cities have seen a corresponding spike in construction accident deaths.
“The killing of Mr. Moncayo was tragic, but it was also foreseeable and avoidable,” one of the prosecuting attorneys said at a news conference.
Sky Materials Corp, with foreman Wilmer Cueva, and Harco Construction LLC, with senior superintendent Alfonso Prestia, were indicted on criminal charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and reckless endangerment on Wednesday, August 5th.
“We have no involvement in the accident whatsoever,” an attorney for Harco commented. “It’s tragic but we’re not responsible for it. There will be no settlement in this case and no plea; this will go to trial and we expect to be vindicated.”
Wall Street Journal reported there have been 72 construction accidents in Manhattan this year alone, the most since 2008, when numerous fatal crane collapses were recorded.
In part, this is due to the surge in new construction as the country finally comes out of the Great Recession. There are more construction sites operating in most major cities than any other year since 2007 – a sign that increased investment has created a surge in building. Unfortunately, the private finances have not increased worker safety, insurance, or construction wages and protections.
“What our detectives quickly learned was that this construction site was also a crime scene,” police Commissioner William Bratton said regarding conditions at the scene of the construction accident. Although required by law, the walls that collapsed and killed the victim were not reinforced, despite the excavation pit being 14 feet deep.
One of the prosecutors in the case made the bold statement on behalf of construction worker safety everywhere: “These cases are normally settled. Ours will not be. We will not accept a plea. We will not accept a fine. We will not accept anything. We intend to go to trial, and we believe we’ll be vindicated.”