"They Came Down Screaming"

A pair of construction workers embrace as rescue crews work at the scene of a crane collapse on New York's Upper East Side Friday, May 30, 2008 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
This story was written by CBSNews.com's Scott Conroy.
Franklin Ramos was waiting for the bus to take his son to school shortly after 8 a.m. on Manhattan's Upper East Side when he was suddenly startled out of his morning routine.

"The noise was so terrible," Ramos told CBSNews.com. "The weight that came down was very bad. There was a lot of screaming-women and everything. Plus the construction guys that were at the top of the building came off."

Ramos watched as a construction crane broke apart in two pieces, with one section falling on the traffic below. He said he stood by helplessly as at least two construction workers plummeted from the top of the building.

"They came down screaming," he said. " … the others, they ducked down. They were trying to hold on."

As the NYPD sealed off the area around 91st Street and First Avenue, shocked local residents gathered around the yellow tape. Many were asking the same question: less than three months after another deadly crane collapse in the city, how could this happen again?

"It seems like the greed of the developers wins out over safety, and they throw these buildings up as fast as they can," Wendy Victor, who lives nearby at 85th and York Street, said. " ….and so yeah, I'm outraged."

Several local residents told CBSNews.com that they had eyed the crane warily in recent days, since it seemed unsafe.

"I knew what it was right away because I never liked the look of that crane," Jaclyn Taeshler said.

Lawrence Robinson said that he was so concerned with the safety hazard the crane seemed to present that he used to go out of his way to avoid walking past the street corner where it once stood. In the aftermath of yet another deadly crane accident in his city, Robinson is looking for answers.

"This is getting crazy now," Robinson said. "I don't know what's going to have to be done, but something better be done."

By Scott Conroy