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Three Workers Hurt, Rescued In Astoria Construction Accident

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Three workers were seriously injured and rescued Tuesday afternoon in a construction accident in Astoria, Queens.

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reported, the FDNY said the workers became trapped when the upper portion of a house under construction collapsed at 31-25 28th Rd. in Queens, causing the roof to collapse.

The workers became trapped in the basement, according to the FDNY.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said when fire crews arrived, they found one of the workers, a 37-year-old man, had escaped from the debris on his own. He was seriously, but not critically injured, Nigro said.

Crews found a second worker, a 40-year-old man, trapped in the debris, Nigro said. He was rescued quickly and was reported in critical condition.

The third worker, a 28-year-old man, was trapped under what Nigro described as a few thousand pounds of construction materials in the basement.

Crews crawled in and administered IV drugs for the injury and pain relief, and kept the worker stable as they dug through the heavy equipment that had left the man trapped, Nigro said.

FDNY Lt. Frederick Ill said the third worker was "in from his face all the way down to his ankle, horizontally, by numerous wooden planks."

Desperately digging through the debris and rubble, the FDNY heroes who responded knew time was of the essence, CBS2's Jessica Layton reported.

Ill's team worked to get the man out, while medic Juan Henriquez provided the medication, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported. The man was conscious the whole time.

"This was the real deal. He was entrapped. He was in a great deal of pain," Henriquez said. "Initially, he was very scared."

The third worker was left in critical condition, but was conscious and communicating.

Witnesses watched in in amazement as dozens of members of the FDNY family finally emerged from the building, hoisting the critically injured patient – still wearing his work boots – into an ambulance.

"I saw the trucks and the people who tried to save the man inside," said neighbor Tina Antzoulatos.

The workers were all taken to NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, Nigro said.

"There was like white smoke coming from the windows and stuff as it collapsed," said business owner Esad Dzaferovic.

Dzaferovic and his brother, Val, watched the chaos of the collapse from a nearby corner. They run a pizzeria, and they are worried because they know all the workers who are

"They come every day for lunch," said Val Dzaferovic. "We know them and we feel a little bad, I mean, we hope the best for them."

The home where the accident happened is undergoing construction. It is reportedly a two-story building that has been permitted to add a third story.

The debris that fell included 1,200-pound laminate beams, bags of cement, concrete blocks, and sand aggregate, among other items, according to Nigro.

Initial reports were that a crane had dropped its load on the roof, but officials later said the crane was long gone by the time of the accident and heavy construction material was already in place.

Buildings Department Deputy Commissioner of Enforcement Timothy Hogan said the department is investigating what happened. But he said heavy equipment deliveries are supposed to be sent to the lower level, or else engineers must give proper permission if materials are placed on the roof.

It is not clear whether engineers gave that permission at the Astoria building Tuesday.

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