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J'can man falls 40 feet to death in NY

Saturday, September 22, 2012    

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A Jamaican construction worker last week plummeted 40 feet to his death from the top floor of a four-storey building he was working on in Brooklyn, New York.

The man, 67-year-old Winston Gillett, was part of a masonry crew working on the building when an I-beam collapsed causing him and another co-worker to fall through the floor all the way down to the basement where they were covered by crushing debris.

A Jamaica Observer source said Gillett, who hailed from St Thomas, had reportedly been living in the United States as an undocumented immigrant for several years.

The source said Gillett's son, who was living in New York, was forced to return to Jamaica some years ago, after he became crippled, while his daughter is said to be living somewhere in Kingston.

He explained further that Gillett's landlady was forced to claim the body after a female companion of his failed to do so.

"I know that in cases like this, there might be settlements and so I don't know if they have been able to reach his daughter," the source told the Observer.

Meanwhile, community relations officer at the Jamaican Consulate in New York Christopher Castriota confirmed the incident.

"Yes, a passport was issued from this Consulate to someone (a Jamaican) with that name about five or six years ago," he said. He was, however, unable to provide any further detail on Gillett or his family in Jamaica.

Last week, the New York Post reported that investigators will now have to look into whether a load of concrete and cinder blocks delivered to the site caused the I-beam to give way as five workers toiled on the top floor of the two-family home on Carlton Avenue in Fort Greene.

The newspaper further reported that another worker, Ignatius Regis, was on the top of the building when it began to shake and a foreman frantically tried to stop another wooden pallet of bagged cement from being lowered to the floor.

"The load was too heavy. They were trying to unload the last delivery of cement. We were already feeling the trembler," Regis was quoted as saying.

"When the foreman saw the building shaking, he was trying to stop the guy but the guy couldn't stop."

It was reported that Regis and another worker jumped to a section of the building that didn't collapse, while the supervisor clung to a pile of cinder blocks before scrambling to safety.

But it was too late for Gillett and another worker who was seriously injured.

"Afterward, I went down to the basement searching for them, but there was so much blocks of cement on them," Regis told the New York Post. "They looked terrible, very bad shape."

Rescuers eventually pulled both workers out of the rubble where they were said to have been covered in soot.

Meanwhile, the newspaper said that city officials will launch a probe into "what role the weight of the deliveries might have played".

"We will be calculating the weight and identifying (who) allowed that delivery to occur. The collapse was either in the act of delivery or immediately following," Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri was quoted as saying. "It's clear (the building) was not structurally stable and could not handle the load."

According to the New York Post, construction permits were issued in February to general contractor Professional Grade Construction of 1669 East 10th St in Brooklyn.

The newspaper reported that LiMandri said that the department "had only got one complaint about the job, but issued no violations after an inspection".

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