The crane rigger accused of negligence and corner cutting prior to a deadly New York City crane collapse was acquitted yesterday by a New York Judge. Seven people died in the 2008 construction accident, including six construction workers and one tourist. Dozens more were injured in the collapse and millions of dollars were lost in damages.
The rigger, William Rapetti, had been charged with manslaughter and, if convicted, faced up to 15 years in prison. The prosecution, New York building officials and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) all fingers Rapetti for the construction accident.
The collapse was blamed on the failure of heavy-duty polyester straps, used by Rapetti to fasten a steel collar to the crane. The steel collar, in turn, helped attach the crane to the building under construction.
Though the crane’s manufacturer urged the use of eight such straps, Rapetti secured it with only four. He was also accused of using at least one strap that was seriously frayed and failed to protect the straps from the crane’s metal edges.
When the worn strap broke, it forced more pressure onto the remaining three straps and broke them as well. With the collar now unsecured, it plummeted down the crane, tearing loose similar steel collars below.
Rapetti’s legal team argued that he had followed accepted safety standards and, in his ruling, the judge appears to have accepted the argument. The defense also claimed that shoddy welding and structural errors were more to blame for the construction accident than Rapetti’s rigging job.