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Worker at building site in Astoria dies from fall

The construction site where a worker fell is visible through a hole in the fence. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

City and federal agencies are investigating an accident at an Astoria construction site last week in which a worker fell and later died at the hospital from head trauma.

A spokeswoman for the city Department of Buildings, which is looking into the accident, said the man was working at a construction site Jan. 24 for a new four-story, mixed-use building, at 45-11 Broadway in Astoria.

“It appears a construction worker fell 15 feet from the first floor of the building where he was working,” she said.

The FDNY said the call came in at 3:18 p.m. The NYPD identified the victim as Ricardo Gonzalez, 45, of Brentwood, N.Y.

Nick Mitchell, who was working at Lavell’s Admiral’s Club bar on the same block, said he learned about the accident when four people asked for towels at the deli next door. Mitchell said he could see workers huddled around Gonzalez and that they tried to give him CPR. Gonzalez was unconscious and not moving.

“It looks like what happened is he was crossing over and he lost his balance,” Mitchell said.

Gonzalez was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital Queens, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The DOB has issued a full stop-work order on the site as it investigates, a spokeswoman said.

Ted Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Labor, said the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has also opened an inspection of the site for any workplace safety violations.

The DOB said the general contractor for the site is Centex Builders of Astoria, which did not respond to a request for comment.

The Labor Department said Gonzalez was employed with Abacus Building Innovations Inc. of Flushing. A company contact could not be located.

The death shocked employees at some stores on the block, who said they had no problems with the workers and the supervisors while the work was going on.

“We can’t complain about them,” said an employee at Nick’s, a deli right next to the construction site. “If I could, I would.”

Mitchell said the house had been abandoned for the last 15 years before the construction work started.

“The two supervisors that I see [on the site] seem to really care about what’s going on there,” he said.

He called the situation “tough” and “very sad.”

“You don’t think about going to work and dying,” Mitchell said. “You don’t think about how fragile your life is.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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