Contractors Face Homicide Charges After Worker Crushed by Cinder Blocks
An immigrant from Ecuador died in a Bronx building surrounded by relatives.
Three contractors were charged with the death of an Ecuadorean worker who was crushed to death under 1000 pounds of debris in a Bronx construction accident four years ago. This is one of many fatalities at work sites that has raised concerns about the industry's safety.
Augustine Adesanmi (67), Akhlak Choudhary (54), and Abazi Okoro (66) were all charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death Segundo Huerta's laborer at the Norwood building site on East 208th Street.
After Wednesday's arraignments, Darcel D. Clark, district attorney, stated that Segundo Manuel Huerta mayancela's tragic death, which was buried beneath cinder blocks, metal sheets and cinder blocks, was completely preventable.
She added that the construction site at 94 E. 208th St. was a death trap awaiting to happen.
Two contractors were arraigned Tuesday at the Bronx Supreme Court. Both were placed on supervised release. The third man, Mr. Choudhary has not been taken into custody. Fatos Mustafaj (64), was also charged in the incident with second-degree grand theft. Prosecutors claimed he lied to the company about its qualifications.
Both Mr. Mustafaj and Mr. Adesanmi's lawyers declined to comment. Emmanuella Agwu's lawyer for Mr. Okoro stated in an interview that her client had nothing to do. On Wednesday, it was not clear who would represent Mr. Choudhary.
Maria-Juana Guazhco–Paguay, Mr. Huerta’s wife, attended the news conference Wednesday, with their five children standing close by.
She said, "I know that I will not see him again," "I want justice for my husband."
New York City's most hazardous trade is construction. Many of the city's immigrant workers lack legal recourse and papers when things go wrong. According to the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, construction accidents accounted for 26 per cent of all New York City worker fatalities in 2019.
Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Carlos' Law in December. It was named after an Ecuadorean immigrant who was killed at a Manhattan construction site. This law allows contractors to be fined up to half a billion dollars for causing death or injury to a worker.
Atin Batra, the owner of the Bronx property, paid $1.2 million to Mr. Adesanmi’s company Favored Design and Construction for the task. Prosecutors said that Mr. Mustafaj and Mr. Adesanmi falsely claimed Favored Design was qualified for the construction of the four-story structure.
To obtain city building permits, Mr. Choudhary was hired as a qualified general contractor. According to a district attorney news release, he was the subject of forged insurance policies and other fraudulent documents.
According to the release, Mr. Choudhary paid Mr. Okoro $3,000 for the privilege of being the superintendent of the site. However, Mr. Okoro was a former employee of City's Department of Design and Construction and never visited the property in accordance with the city's building code.
Construction on East 208th Street was still ongoing through the summer 2019.
Prosecutors said that Mr. Huerta (46) was transporting bricks and cinder blocks to a sheet metal platform on Aug. 27, 2019. However, unsecured metal joints gave way. He was thrown to the ground by thousands of pounds worth of building material when the platform fell.
Firefighters took one hour to rescue Mr. Huerta from the rubble. Five other workers were also hurt.
Manuel Huerta (26), one of six relatives who worked at the site on August 27, was also hurt in the collapse. He now needs a wheelchair.
Manuel Huerta stated that he was a kind and well-rounded person during a Wednesday interview. He was a'really good dad' to his children.