Renovation work was underway on a building -- a storage facility for a car dealership -- when a cinderblock wall that was being demolished suddenly came crashing down, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.
Construction workers on a lift were sent flying. Up to three of them suffered critical injuries.
Video shows the facade of the building on Middle Country Road come down at around 1:30 p.m.
"We just heard a big collapse and smoke," witness Andrew Ehrilich said.
"It was a big dust ball. The whole wall came down. They were working on top of the building and that whole header, the top piece, gave way and all the cinderblocks came crashing down on top of them," witness Matt Schwalb said.
The force of the cinderblocks toppled a lift several workers were on. Construction worker John Gomes was working inside the building and said he knows he could have been one of them.
"I just heard the noise when it came down, boom. You hear the noise. Everybody came out ... and guys were on the ground bleeding," Gomes said.
"We saw the wall coming down and many peoples running," construction worker Charlie Eguez added.
Officials said 16 people were working on the building, taking down the front facade brick by brick when the collapse occurred. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison credited an officer nearby for lifesaving quick action.
"One of our police officers just happened to be on the scene, did some phenomenal work. Some of the workers are actually calling her a hero for the triage work that she did," Harrison said.
As for why the collapse happened, OSHA will be involved. Suffolk police and the town of Smithtown said the construction site had all the proper permits and there were no known violations.
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