Falling Debris Kills Prominent NYC Architect, Stirs New Safety Measures

Like many of the world’s great cities, New York’s skyline is dotted with construction cranes and majestic buildings. Unfortunately for some pedestrians, the falling debris associated with urban buildings can be a deadly hazard.

That exact situation unfolded Dec. 17, 2019, when Erica Tishman was tragically killed on W. 49th Street in Midtown Manhattan. Police received a 911 call at 10:47 a.m. that morning, then discovered the victim on the ground unconscious with serious head trauma. EMS responded to the scene and pronounced the victim deceased.

The New York City Department of Buildings issued a released saying that Tishman, the vice president of a local real estate project management firm, was fatally hit by debris falling from the building above. Engineers from the Department of Buildings were dispatched to the site to perform a full structural stability inspection on the building from which the debris dislodged.

The owner of the building in question, at 729 Seventh Avenue, was cited by the city in April 2019 for “failing to maintain exterior building facade.” In other words, this death may have been preventable.

The Risk of Pedestrian Deaths in NYC

Pedestrian deaths have been in the rise in NYC. 70 pedestrians were killed in the first 8 months of 2019, an increase from the 58 pedestrians who died during the same time period in 2018. While most of these deaths are linked to traffic accidents, falling debris is becoming a greater concern.

Following the death of Erica Tishman, surprise inspections uncovered safety violations at 220 other NYC buildings. These “Class 1” violations are considered to represent a clear danger to pedestrians, and can include things such as missing bricks, loose masonry or a facade with cracks. In addition to the April violation, the New York Times reported that the owner of the building at 729 Seventh Avenue had at least two other recent serious violations for which they paid a combined $3,000 in fines.

Speaking to local media, many city residents expressed alarm at the dangers posed by crumbling facades. Seeking to allay these fears, the Department of Buildings told the New York Times it planned to double its number of facade inspectors in an attempt to provide safer streets for pedestrians.

Finding the Right Pedestrian Injury Attorney

Frankel Law has been protecting the legal rights of New York pedestrians for more than four decades. Litigation involving falling debris and other similar incidents is often quite complex, which means that it is advisable to have an experienced legal advocate in your corner.

If you’ve been injured while in a building due to poor maintenance or construction, or in any other serious accident, we encourage you to contact Frankel Law today.

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