NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The city Department of Buildings issued a stop work order Wednesday, after a woman was struck and killed by a piece of flying plywood in Greenwich Village on Tuesday evening.
The incident took place at around 6 p.m. Tuesday at West 12th Street near Seventh Avenue.
As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, the 37-year-old woman – identified as Trang Thuy “Tina” Nguyen – was talking on her cellphone when a 4-foot-by-8-foot piece of green plywood from a section of fencing around a nearby construction site came loose due to blasting winds.
The piece of plywood hit Nguyen in the right side of her body, and she was thrown against the side of the building that stands at 175 W. 12th St.
Nguyen was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Nguyen’s fiancé, Alex Beitler, released a statement late Wednesday.
“She always saw the best in everyone. She was always reminding me to see the same. We were together for five of the best years of our lives. We planned to be married in July of this year. The family and I have decided to bury her in Philadelphia,” the statement said. “This is the most devastating loss. She was the woman of my dreams. I hope people will remember her by seeing the best in one another and treating each other with true kindness.”
The city Department of Buildings has investigated, and issued a full stop work order, as well as a violation for failure to safeguard the property.
“It is the responsibility of building owners and construction site managers to ensure their properties are safeguarded and in code compliant conditions at all times,” a department representative said. “A failure to do so can result in enforcement action by the department including the issuance of violations.”
Jason Foley works at the nearby construction site.
“It’s just like one of those divine intervention kind of things. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen,” Foley said. “You know, it’s sad. It really is sad. You’re just walking down the street, and you never know what’s going to happen. You just really never know. Whether it’s a car crossing the street or some freak accident like this.”
The site is where St. Vincent’s Hospital-Manhattan once stood. The hospital closed in 2010, and the site is now being redeveloped into condominiums.
Foley said workers were inspecting the fencing Wednesday morning.
“I know they were shoring up; maybe double checking making sure everything was going to be secure,” he said.
It is an issue that has faced the site before. According to records from the Department of Buildings, a complaint was filed in August 2014 saying debris falling off the building “struck someone in the head.”
Turner Construction Company is working on the development, and said the issue was the result of a concrete pour and was later resolved.
The company had representatives on site Wednesday, taking pictures of the area where the plywood came loose.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of a pedestrian who was walking near the construction site on West 12th Street,” Turner Construction said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this very difficult time. Safety on and around our jobsites is always our number one priority. We are conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the incident. We are also fully cooperating with investigations by the Department of Buildings and other agencies looking into this incident.”
Meanwhile, many people walking by on Wednesday said the worry of flying or falling debris is always in the back of their minds. One woman said it is one of her greatest fears.
“Not from burglars, muggers or terrorists, but construction,” she said.
One neighbor told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond she would now avoid the site.
“Now, I’m not walking down 12th Street,” the woman said. “I’m going around.”
But even on the windiest of days, Ann told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones she doesn’t think twice about stuff blowing off of buildings.
“Honest to God, I live right down here and it didn’t even cross my mind,” she said. “I am shocked that it would blow out.”
Derek, however, said the construction is the reason he doesn’t usually walk on the block.
“Yea, of course. Think about it in New York all the time,” he said. “I actually cross the street. I’m very aware. I don’t trust these things.”
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating the incident, to ensure the safety of the site’s workers.