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Police: Worker Falls To His Death In Hell's Kitchen Elevator Shaft

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- An elevator mechanic was killed Tuesday when he plunged four stories down a shaft in a Hell's Kitchen building, police said.

The building at 577 Ninth Ave. between 41st and West 42nd streets was shut down and locked up, off limits to everyone except police and buildings inspectors investigating the death of the 30-year-old worker.

Police said the worker was wearing a hard hat but not a safety harness as he walked across wooden boards four stories up, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported.

Police: Worker Falls To His Death In Hell's Kitchen Elevator Shaft

Witnesses said the boards gave way right above the elevator shaft around 12:40 p.m. and the mechanic fell into several feet of standing water in the basement.

Responding police found the man unconscious and unresponsive on the ground in the elevator shaft.

He was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead. The worker's name has not been released.

"It's very sad that these people risk their lives. All these new buildings coming up, and it's just, it's very sad," said Myra Sanchez.

The site will eventually become a 25-story hotel and condo building. Signs on the project identify the contractors as BRF Construction.

CBS2 reached out to BRF Construction for comment on safety at the site, but have not yet heard back.

City Council members Jumaane Williams and Corey Johnson, who chair the council's Housing and Buildings Committee and Health Committee respectively, released a joint statement saying they were "appalled and disheartened" by the worker's death.

"Our prayers for peace and comfort are with the family of the 30-year-old construction worker who died after falling down an elevator shaft while he was simply doing his job," the statement said.

The council members said that according to reports, BRF Construction has already been fined for a safety violation at the site.

"Though this investigation is underway, reports indicate that the site's general contractor, BRF Construction Corp., received a $12,000 fine in March after a worker was spotted climbing a 15- to 20-foot wall without a harness," the statement continued. "We cannot allow reckless contractors take advantage of our city's construction boom without prioritizing the safety and security of all New Yorkers. It has been a goal of the Council's to combat construction-related fatalities, and it's our hope to continue working with the Administration to eliminate bad-acting contractors so that our city does not grow at the expense of those building it."

Across the street from the site is a string of cafes and delis, visited mostly every day by construction workers whose jobs are now on temporary hold as they mourn the loss of a coworker.

"Months now they've been over there, coming in every morning," said Francis Quinn. "And to fall that far, man. It's sad, man."

Police are investigating. The city medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

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