Report: Buffalo Crew Erected Safety Rail After Fatal Fall

March 30, 2007

A construction crew in Buffalo, N.Y. began erecting a safety railing minutes after a worker plunged 30 feet to his death and ignored repeated orders to stop as paramedics battled to revive the victim, police said.

Within minutes of the accident at the 19th-century Webb Building last week, a foreman was heard yelling, “Everyone clear the building,” a police officer said in Wednesday’s Buffalo News. But work stopped only for a few minutes before resuming, the officer said.

“There couldn’t have been a rail there when he fell,” the newspaper quoted another officer, who also spoke on condition of anonymity. “I looked up and saw a guy wearing a hard hat on the first level nailing … the piece that supports the safety rail. We did yell at them to stop, and they wouldn’t stop.”

Officers said their first priority was trying to rescue Jonathan Fundalinski, 24, who landed in a 6-foot hole in the basement. They said the railing was built on a second-floor ledge where Fundalinski lost his footing.

“We interviewed three of his co-workers at police headquarters and they denied any knowledge of the railings being installed after the accident,” Detective Capt. James Lonergan said.

“They appeared extremely distraught. … We’re absolutely going to re-interview those workers. One way or another, we’ll get to the truth.”

An investigator for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration was trying to piece together what happened through interviews, photographs and site observations, the agency said.

The badly deteriorated, 119-year-old Webb Building is being remodeled into an upscale apartment building.


Information from: The Buffalo News,

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