This week in Midtown Manhattan, a freak accident claimed the life of an esteemed architect. The 60-year-old woman died shortly before 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17, as she walked to her office. She was hit by crumbling debris from the facade of an overhead brick tower.
The architect was the vice president of a New York City project management firm. She died on impact as she walked along Seventh Ave. near its intersection with W. 49th St.
A witness reported that a man was walking beside her just before the impact. He reportedly stopped on the street to purchase an umbrella, likely saving his own life by the seconds of delay.
The office building from where the facade debris fell is located at 729 Seventh Ave. and is 17-stories tall. On April 29, building owners received violations for “failure to maintain building wall(s) or appurtenances.” The violation remains outstanding and specifies the “damaged terra cotta at areas above 15th floor in several locations which poses a falling hazard for pedestrians.”
Just last month, the city approved some plans to work on the facade of the building. However, the work had not been initiated when the facade crumbled and tumbled down onto the pedestrian.
One New York state senator weighed in, saying that “if there is any wrongdoing, this is something that would almost rise to . . . a criminal matter.”
Regardless of that outcome, those injured in similar cases of premises liability and the survivors of those killed can hold the responsible parties liable for their losses and damages in New York City’s civil courts.