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Big wind knocks construction wall over, two trapped in debris

Passers-by came to the rescue of two women recently when a construction wall collapsed on them. When a sudden rainstorm tore through Manhattan earlier this month, a gust of wind toppled the plywood and metal fence. The women were trapped under the debris.

Witnesses said they heard a scream, and someone shouted that someone was under the wall. In an instant, one man said, 25 people were there, lifting the wall and pulling the women to safety. One victim was bleeding.

Firefighters transported both women and one man to the hospital. No details were available about their injuries.

The fence was outside a restaurant that was being renovated, but it is not clear who put the fence up. The Buildings Department cited the contractor for a number of violations and issued a stop-work order. A representative from the company said that it had nothing to do with the wall; the company was working on the interior, not the exterior of the building. She did not say if the company would challenge the citations.

The Buildings Department believes the wall was not properly secured to the building. Even the high winds in the city that day -- topping 40 mph, according to the National Weather Service -- should not have taken the wall down.

The incident may be a great example of New Yorkers "pulling together in a crisis," as one of the men who helped rescue the women said. It is also, however, a great example of how dangerous construction sheds and safety fences at construction sites can be.

At this point, no one knows if any of the victims will sue. But businesses can protect themselves by carefully vetting the contractors they work with and, if something like this does happen, contacting an attorney immediately. 

Source: New York Daily News, "Times Square construction wall falls, injuring two women temporarily trapped underneath," Barry Paddock , Rocco Parascandola and Corky Siemaszko, Nov. 1, 2013

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