BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
The construction worker who fell 29 stories to his death at a construction site in lower Manhattan last week has been identified as Juan Chonillo, 36, of Corona.
At approximately 9:15 a.m. on Thursday, Chonillo plummeted from a development located at 161 Maiden Lane near South Street and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
According to reports, the construction worker for the nonunion SSC High Rise Construction was wearing a harness, but it was not hooked up.
The building on which Chonillo was working is a 670-foot luxury condo tower known as 1 Seaport. Due to an unsafe operation of a crane, city building inspectors had issued a partial stop-work order the day before. The crane, which was still in effect at the time of the accident, did not have a permit at that site.
According to city records, the site has been hit with nine construction-related violations since January 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 chairman of the legislative body’s Workers Safety Subcommittee.
Moya, who sponsored Carlos’ Law—which was named after a construction worker who died on the job and is aimed at punishing developers for the death or injury of a worker on the job—said that 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 nonunion worksite 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.”
In the wake of Chonillo’s death and the respective injury and death of two other city construction workers who suffered from similar incidents last week, Moya is calling on the legislature to support Carlos’ Law.
Police said that the investigation into Chonillo’s death is still ongoing.
Chonillo, an Ecuadorian immigrant, leaves behind five children.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.