Lifelong Bushwick: Army war hero and dad of four killed in gruesome Soho construction accident

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A construction worker who was an Army war hero and a dad of four was fatally crushed early Saturday, when a 7.5 ton counterweight fell from a crane during work at a luxury condo site in Soho.

Lifelong Bushwick, Brooklyn, resident Gregory Echevarria, 34, died instantly in the gruesome, pre-dawn accident at the corner of Broome and Varick streets.

“I didn’t see it, but I heard he was split in half. You are talking about 15,000-16,000 pounds,” said one shaken co-worker.

A second victim sustained minor injuries and was taken to an area hospital.

Echevarria, a crane rigger, was helping set up equipment owned by Cranes Express, a company with a history of OSHA violations and at least one previous on-the-job fatality.

A man who answered the phone for Cranes Express hung up on a Post reporter.

“Listen, I work for them — it’s a good company,” said the victim’s brother, Keith, 32, a crane operator who said he’d been the one who got his brother the rigging job. He was at the site at the time of the 3:15 a.m. tragedy.

“Nobody really saw it,” Keith, who is one of the victim’s seven siblings, said Saturday afternoon, as family members gathered at the Bushwick home of the victim’s 91-year-old mother.

“Accidents happen. Unfortunately, two accidents that happened ended up killing somebody,” the distraught brother added. “Unfortunately, it was my family — it hurts more.”

Workers at the scene of a fatal accident in SoHo.
Workers at the scene of a fatal accident in SoHo.G.N. Miller

The victim, who had manned a tank during multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaves behind a three-month-old son, Garrison, and three other children from an ex-wife, family members said.

“My baby has no father,” said Garrison’s sobbing mother, who was too distraught to speak further to a reporter.

The counterweight detached as workers were readying the crane to hoist air conditioning equipment to the rooftop, surviving workers told The Post.

The Department of Buildings issued an immediate stop work order on the condominium project, and hauled off the crane as evidence.

The site has received seven complaints since July, including claims of unsafe conditions and construction causing neighboring buildings to crack, records show.

The 25-story, 54-unit “570Broome” project, in tony Hudson Square, is set to open for occupancy this summer. The largest, full-floor units cost well over $5 million, according to the project’s website.

Among those who have purchased full-floor penthouse units is director Cary Fukunaga, who will direct the next James Bond movie with Daniel Craig. Fukunaga won an Emmy for the first season of TV’s “True Detective” series.

The project is being built by the New York-based Agime Group; its president, Murat Agirnasli could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reps for the project’s construction management company, KSC Construction Group, also could not immediately be reached.

“It’s just awful,” said Elizabeth Stribling, president of Stribling Marketing, which is selling the project.

”What a horrible event. I’m just so chagrined,” she told The Post. “Our industry is trying its utmost to provide increased safety and security on its cranes.”

Ibrahim Ismaila

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Ibrahim Ismaila is an Online entrepreneur and currently a news reporter for Dailywitness. He is also a co-author here at Today Trail. He writes more about breaking Stories.

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