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De Blasio Announces Safety Improvement Plan After Deadly Crane Collapse

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio announced safety improvements to crane operations on Sunday, after a deadly collapse in Tribeca that left one dead and several wounded.

The collapse happened just before 8:30 a.m. Friday on Worth Street near Church Street. Cellphone video captured the moment the massive crane fell to the street.

David Wichs, 38, was killed instantly as he walked along Worth Street. Three others were injured, including 73-year-old Thomas O'Brian, who suffered a head injury.

CAUGHT ON VIDEO: Watch as the crane collapses this morning in Lower Manhattan. One person was killed and three injured in the collapse. Read more here:

Posted by CBS New York on Friday, February 5, 2016

The collapse happened as the crew was lowering the crane due to high winds. A veteran operator was inside the control cab when it flipped upside down. The crew was trying to lower the arm into the safety position -- an upside-down V -- right over West Broadway.

PHOTOS: Lower Manhattan Crane CollapseCHECK: Traffic & Transit

Instead, the 56-year-old operator lost his battle to control the crane, and it collapsed.

The operator, identified as Kevin Reilly, of Port Jefferson, has been questioned about how he lost control of the crane. Sources told 1010 WINS' Roger Stern that Reilly probably saved lives by moving the crane away from buildings and onto the street.

De Blasio's four-point plan would include restrictions on crawler cranes that would mandate workers to put the structures in safety mode when high winds are forecast, and to send advisories under those conditions. De Blasio also called for more sidewalk protection for pedestrians.

The Department of Buildings will also raise the fine for failure to comply with regulations from $4,800 to $10,000.

"No building is worth a person's life. We are going to ensure the record boom in construction and growth does not come at the expense of safety," de Blasio said in a statement.

De Blasio said he's also forming a task force to evaluate Friday's collapse over the next 90 days, WCBS 880's Stephanie Colombini reported. The group will propose other regulations based on their findings.

"We should recognize that the crew working on this crane was doing exactly as they were supposed to do at that time," de Blasio said.

Crews were working overnight to remove the crane, using blowtorches to dismantle the 565-foot long structure, CBS2's Ilana Gold reported. Once the crane was divided up into smaller pieces, each section was hauled out on a flatbed truck.

Experts plan to study the structure with hopes of figuring out what went wrong.

The Department of Buildings also plans on studying the crane's computer, found at the site of the crash. According to DOB officials, the crane's computer records each movement and could be the key to finding answers about the crash. 

CBS2 has also learned that Bay Crane Services, the company that owns the crane, has been cited four times for safety violations since 2011.

"Bay Crane really consists of about a quarter of the cranes that operate in New York City, so any of those violations could really vary," Buildings Department Commissioner Rick Chandler said.

The next step is to haul out the cars and patch up the roadway, in anticipation of opening the street for the Monday morning commute.

The outcome of the crash is alarming for both neighbors and commuters.

"We walk past scaffolding every single day, and we don't think to look up," Eric Peresiper, a neighbor, said. "Now it's something we have to be concerned about."

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