A multi-story parking garage collapse in Manhattan on Tuesday left one dead and several hospitalized. Officials blame the collapse on the garage being structurally compromised from possible engineering errors made whenever the garage was first built. NYPD used robot dogs and drones to assist in rescuing people trapped in the rubble, and officials are confident they have evacuated those that may have been caught in the collapse.
By Julian Cummings, Brynn Gingras, Laura Ly & Artemis Moshtaghian; April 19, 2023
A parking garage that collapsed Tuesday in lower Manhattan, killing one person and injuring five others, had six open building violations, three of which were classified as “hazardous,” New York City Department of Buildings records show.
The garage, on Ann Street in the Financial District, was a four-story building that “pancaked … all the way to the cellar floor,” Department of Buildings acting Commissioner Kazimir Vilenchik said.
The cause is under investigation, but officials have said they believe it was a “structural collapse.”
The Manhattan district attorney’s office is investigating the collapse, it said Wednesday. The office said in a statement it “cannot confirm details of an ongoing investigation.”
The fire department used a robotic dog and drones to search the building for people because it was “completely unstable,” New York Mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference. Everyone was believed to be accounted for, Chief of Fire Operations John Esposito said.
The building has six open property violations – three of which are classified as hazardous, according to Department of Buildings records. The three open hazardous violations date back to 2003, 2009, and 2013.
The two earliest hazardous violations describe “defective concrete with exposed rear cracks,” and “broken & defective fire stairs,” a “loose piece of concrete in danger of falling @ various locations” and a “defective exit,” in addition to other issues, according to the online violation summaries.
The 2013 hazardous violation was focused on improper access to exits, according to the summary.
The building’s owners have paid a total of $2,200 in fines stemming from the three open hazardous violations, according to records. Since 1976, the building has been cited for 64 violations. It was built in 1920s and converted to a parking garage in 1957, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine told CNN.
Little Man Parking is the operator of the garage. CNN has reached out to the operator but has not heard back.
Adams had earlier said there were no open violations or active complaints about the building prior to its collapse.
Witness saw cars falling into a hole
Zach Powers, a freshman at Pace University, told CNN he was in his dorm Tuesday afternoon when he heard a loud bang followed by heavy rumbling.
“It lasted for 10 seconds, which was surreal,” he said. “Then I see smoke flying towards our window, so I walk over to the window and see cars falling into a hole that’s in the middle of the garage.”
“We got out of the building before the smoke cleared,” he said.
Video taken by Powers from his dorm, which is on the seventh floor, shows the collapsed garage with multiple damaged vehicles.
Four of the injured were taken to a hospital and were in stable condition, Esposito said. One person refused medical attention.
At least one worker in the building was trapped on one of the upper floors of the garage and while he was conscious and alert, he couldn’t evacuate to a lower floor. Rescuers were able to get him out across the roof to a nearby building and bring him down to safety, Esposito said.
Firefighters initially began searching the building on foot, but the building continued to collapse and rescue personnel were pulled back from the site due to its instability, Esposito said, calling it an “extremely dangerous operation.”
The body of the lone victim is still inside the building and will not be removed until the place is structurally sound, according to fire department spokesperson Amanda Farinacci.
“The building is in bad shape and needs to be stabilized,” she said.
The area around the collapse would be closed for some time, Levine said.
“They’re not going to be cleaning up and going home tonight,” he said. “This is going to take a while to make it safe for the public.”
Engineers with the Department of Buildings will continue to check adjoining buildings, review drone footage and building records, and investigate possible reasons for the collapse, Vilenchik said.
Photo: AP IMAGES