On March 15, a 200-ft (61m) Favelle Favco 440 tower crane collapsed after it had been climbed. Riggers were attaching a collar on the upper part of the crane’s mast to tie it into the building. The collar slipped, and knocked out two collars that were tied below. Without any connections to the building, the crane toppled on top of nearby buildings on 50th Street.

Reliance Construction, the main contractor on the site, issued a statement expressing sympathy with the victims and cooperation with the authorities. It added it had subcontracted work on the site, and that the crane was supplied by New York Crane. Jimmy Lomma, president of New York Crane, told Cranes Today the crane was rented to JCI (Joy Contractors Inc), of Elizabeth, New Jersey. JCI declined to comment. Reports suggest JCI subcontracted a master rigger, William Rapetti, to work on the climbing operation.

Seven people are now known to have been killed in the accident, six of whom were construction workers. The last person killed, was a tourist in a nearby building that was crushed by the falling crane.

After the crash, the inspector responsible for checking the crane was arrested on charges of allegedly making a false entry in his Inspector’s Route Sheet. The details of the charge suggest a resident’s complaint about the crane may not have been properly investigated.

As well as prosecuting the inspector, the city is to reinspect all cranes checked by him over the last six months. The city’s Department of Investigations said it is conducting a thorough review of procedures and personnel of the Department of Buildings’ Cranes and Derricks Unit.

On March 4, a local resident complained to the DOB, saying that the upper part of the crane did not appear to be secured or properly braced to the building. Marquette was sent out to check the condition of the crane, and filed a report saying he had visited the site on the same day, and that the crane was erected according to DOB-approved plans. A second inspection was carried out the day before the accident, and no problems were found.

The day after the accident, Marquette was interviewed by investigators, and told them that he had checked the crane and found no problems. Three days later, the investigators had found evidence that the inspection had not, in fact, taken place. In a second interview, Marquette admitted he had not conducted the March 4 inspection.

DOB Commissioner Patricia J. Lancaster said, “It is unlikely a March 4th inspection would have prevented this accident, which we continue to believe was caused by human or mechanical error. Regardless, Edward Marquette’s behavior is reprehensible.”

Ten days after the accident, the city banned climbing operations in Manhattan without the presence of a building inspector.

Inspectors will examine every crane before it is climbed. They will prepare a written plan of the climbing operation, and will present this to everyone involved at a meeting before the crane is climbed.

Lancaster said, “While the tragic accident on March 15 was a rare occurrence, we are expanding oversight of cranes as a precautionary measure while we await the findings of our forensic investigation. Starting today I have ordered changes to the inspection protocol for tower cranes that will be in effect until further notice. Any crane operating in an unsafe manner will be shut down immediately.”

• A second fatal accident during a tower crane climbing operation hit the US barely one week later, when a 20ft mast section, being used to climb a Liebherr tower, was dropped onto a building in Miami. Two people were killed inside the building, and four injured. The crane was working on the Paramount Bay development.