Home Asides At ESA under Grand Central, a fatal accident

At ESA under Grand Central, a fatal accident

by Benjamin Kabak

Some very tragic news from the East Side Access project: Michael O’Brien, a 26-year-old sandhog, was killed by falling concrete yesterday while working on the East Side Access project underneath Grand Central Terminal. As the Daily News reports, O’Brien, an employee of Dragados, a private contractor working on the project, was working not 10 feet away from his father when the slab of concrete came lose and fell on him. His father tried to perform CPR to save him, but he died at Bellevue Hospital yesterday evening. Said the MTA in a statement, “The Metropolitan Transportation Authority wishes to extend its deepest condolences to Mr. O’Brien’s family and his fellow workers.”

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Miles Bader November 18, 2011 - 6:59 pm

I hope the finished system will have a plaque or some other monument to him near the location…

Jerrold November 18, 2011 - 7:13 pm

Good idea, but the plaque should be placed in that new sub-basement[or whatever it’s called] level of Grand Central terminal. If they put a plaque in the tunnel where it happened, nobody will ever see it.

Miles Bader November 18, 2011 - 7:32 pm

Yeah that’s what I was thinking, e.g., on the end of the nearest platform to the tunnel segment were it happened.

Jerrold November 18, 2011 - 7:07 pm

“………as workers rushed him through a network of tunnels from the collapse site under 37th St. and Park Ave. to a waiting ambulance at E. 48th St. and Park Ave., the source said.” It is THAT statement that indicates the inadequate level of safety precautions that now seems to exist in underground projects such as this one. Why was the nearest exit 11 blocks away? Couldn’t emergency exits be created, less distance apart, for contigencies like this in which somebody has to be rushed to an emergency room and every minute matters?

Miles Bader November 18, 2011 - 7:36 pm

Er, wouldn’t such emergency exits need to be drilled though solid rock (and the street infrastructure!)?

On a finished system obviously you need such a thing, but there’s really a limit to how much you can do at some points during construction…

Jerrold November 18, 2011 - 10:32 pm

What had especially surprised me was that there was not any emergency exit from that tunnel into Grand Central Terminal itself. Instead they apparently had to “keep going” until they reached the very end of the passageways known as “Grand Central North”, 48th and Park.

Chet November 18, 2011 - 8:04 pm

The people that work underground to build these tunnels- the sandhogs- have always put in awe. It is simply incredible what they create and where.

What we don’t always appreciate is the incredible risk they also take working deep underground.

Condolences to all the sandhogs, and especially the O’Brien family.

John Stieghorst November 18, 2011 - 10:48 pm

I worked with Mike, he was a awesome Driller one of the BEST!!!! Anyone who knows Mike knows dirty Johnny. We were friends for years and partners on the Swan job. He will be missed By me and My family. OUR HEAVY Hearts & prayers go his family.

JEANNINE5257 November 19, 2011 - 5:20 pm

God Bless ALL the NYC Sandhogs-Local 147-and especially MY sandhog working on the 2nd Ave Subway-

Ken Wilson November 20, 2011 - 2:04 am

As a shaper, with 20 some odd years in various aspects of the trades, I will truly tell all that this is a trade of its own. I have worked very hard throughout the years and everyday is truly on every job-site not being a sandhog dangerous. You can never control fate, the only thing you can try to control is safety, but in reality that is about 15% of control that you have. At times you can better your chances with knowledge. As working as a sandhog, I can truly say that even with the best knowledge in safety and experience you are dealing a strong , but a very fragile stone with fractures throughout. I don’t think that many people understand this besides engineers. One thing I can have my opinion on is this, as long as people have dreams of a better sub-way system, there will always be a need for brave men to risk their lives for a better tomorrow for every strap hanger that wants a better system. I truly want to be a proud “Sandhog”. My heart goes out to the O’Brien family. God bless.


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