A worker collapses at the construction site of a former witnesses dormitory in Brooklyn Heights

A construction worker died after falling several stories at a construction site in Brooklyn Heights on Friday morning.

Police and emergency personnel responded to the call at 10:21 a.m. and found the man lying unconscious on a second-story patio, according to the New York Police Department.

A notice filed with the city’s Buildings Department said the man fell from the roof of the 10-story building at 124 Columbia Heights, although witnesses reported he fell from the 8th floor.

A construction worker at the scene at the time said the man was not wearing a harness at the time of the fall. The man’s name and identity are not yet available, pending notification from his family, according to police.

Billionaire financial entrepreneur Vincent Viola bought the historic property, a former Jehovah’s Witness dormitory, for more than $100 million in 2016. The building is being converted from a “community facility” into an apartment building luxury apartments with 96 units, a golf simulator room, two swimming pools and parking, deposits show. Called The Torre House, the rental property is ready to open to tenants this spring.

The building in 2017. Photo by Susan De Vries

The property has several current building permit for jobs ranging from plumbing and electrical to installing a temporary elevator. Since July 2020, 17 complaints regarding worker safety at the site have been filed with the DOB and the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. Three of these complaints were dismissed.

In November, construction company KBENY LLC was ordered to pay $10,000 for “failure to protect all persons and property affected by construction operations”. It was the second $10,000 fine imposed for non-compliance with security measures in six months. Other complaints alleged that there were not enough guardrails on the multi-storey site and that vertical safety nets had not been installed. A stop work order was issued last April after multiple safety violations were reported, including the failure to alert the DOB of an injury at the site.

“My heart goes out to the loved ones of the deceased,” said local council member Lincoln Restler. “Like this tragedy, these preventable deaths often include Latino workers on non-union construction sites. Our office will ensure that there is a rigorous investigation into what led to this death. If there has been negligence, we will demand accountability.

Editor’s Note: A version of this story originally appeared in Brooklyn Paper. Click here to see the original story.

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