BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
The construction worker that fell 29 stories to his death at a construction site in lower Manhattan yesterday was identified as Juan Chonillo, 36, of Corona.
At approximately 9: 15 a.m., Chonillo plummeted from the development located at 161 Maiden Lane near South Street and was pronounced dead on the scene.
According to reports, the 10-year construction worker for the non-union SSC High Rise Construction was wearing a harness, but it was not hooked up.
The building Chonillo was working on is a 670-foot luxury condo tower known as 1 Seaport. Because of an unsafe operation of a crane, city building inspectors issued a partial stop-work order on Wednesday. The crane, which was still in effect at the time of the accident, did not have a permit at that site.
That site is no newbie to operating unlawfully. According to city records, since January, the site has been hit with nine construction-related violations and fined thousands of dollars.
“As the construction death epidemic predictably claims another worker’s life, I am furious that nothing has changed since the last time, or the time before that,” said Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights), the chair of the Workers Safety Subcommittee.
Moya, who sponsored Carlos’ Law – named after a construction worker that died on the job and would punish developers for death or injury of a worker on the job – said a change in the system is overdue.
“Juan Chonillo was like so many hard working immigrants from my district,” said Moya. “He worked tirelessly to put food on the table for his family and, whether he knew it or not, put his life at risk just by stepping on a non-union work site where most of these accidents occur. Although Juan Chonillo wore a harness, that harness wasn’t tethered to anything. It wasn’t enough that Juan was certified, it didn’t matter that he had always been a careful and deliberate worker. What cost him his life was careless management that decided to move a crane without ensuring their workers were properly fastened.”
Following the death of Chonillo and two other construction workers that suffered from similar incidents yesterday, Moya is calling on Albany to support Carlos’ Law.
Despite the unpermitted crane appearing as Chonillo’s cause of death, police say the investigation is still on going.
Chonillo, an Ecuadorian immigrant, leaves behind five children.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.