Wind Whips Scaffold, with Workers Aboard, Smashing into 111 Murray St.

One of two workers who had been trapped on a swinging scaffold 46 stories above the ground at 111 Murray Street, waits to climb into the open window above the broken glass. Rescuers said the glaziers helped to secure the scaffold to the building before leaving it. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

May. 11, 2018

Glass rained down Friday morning from the condo building under construction at 111 Murray Street at West Street as wind caught a scaffold, with two workers aboard. The gusts sent it swinging and smashing into two sides of the glass facade, breaking glass between the 42nd and 46th floors.

The two glaziers on the scaffold were unhurt. A person on the ground received minor injuries but refused medical treatment, a fire official said.

“I felt glass sprinkling down like rain and then I’m looking up I see bigger pieces coming down and I ran,” said Tony Sanicolo, a steam fitter who had just come off a construction lift on the Barclay Street side of the building. “Then it snowballed. More and more. I made it just in time.”

This was the second incident of falling glass from the building in six months. Last November, workers were installing glass near the top of the building when it fell to the street below, sending shards onto the Battery Park City ball field during Downtown Soccer League play.

At 8:30 a.m. Friday, as the two workers lowered their scaffold, the wind caught it “and spun it around we believe four times. Each time it banged into the windows, it broke glass. Glass was coming down,” said Roger Sakowich, the FDNY’s Manhattan Borough Commander. When firefighters arrived, he said, the scaffold was perpendicular to the building and sticking straight out. Winds around the building were 40 to 50 miles an hour, he said.

Because of falling glass, streets around the building were temporarily closed to traffic and pedestrians.

“In conjunction with FDNY and NYPD we had people secure the people on the scaffold, lowering ropes from the floor above until we could get it secured and also tie the scaffold off,” Sakowich said. “Then we removed the two workers who were on the scaffold and brought them to a window on the 46 floor. The two men, who were not identified, were “shaken up quite a bit, but not injured, he said.

Two NYPD Emergency Services officers, Det. Gregory Welch and Officer Pat Fanning, worked from inside the building to help get the glaziers to safety.

“We handed lines out the window so [the glaziers] could secure the scaffold, which they did,” Welch said. “So they worked with us. They weren’t victims up there.”

“They were two hardcore construction workers,” Welch added, “that went for a ride because of Mother Nature.”

Sakowich said he did not expect violations to be issued against the building and none were listed Friday afternoon on the Department of Buildings website.