Manslaughter Charges Brought Against Construction Companies and Supervisors

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    On Wednesday, 08/05/15, Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., filed charges against Sky and Harco Construction LLC as well as supervisors Wilmer Cueva and Alfonso Prestia over the April death of 22-year-old Carlos Moncayo.

    Moncayo, an Ecuadorean worker, died when the walls of a 13-foot-deep construction trench collapsed around him. Sky, the company subcontracted to excavate the area, and Harco Construction LLC, the general contractor for the site, failed to fortify the area.

    Per regulations by the New York City Building Code and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, any excavations that are deeper than 5 feet are required to be fortified prior to allowing workers inside. This typically entails braced sheets of steel or wood that are placed in the trench and then supported by beams to protect workers from cave-ins.

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    Both companies, along with foreman Cueva and site superintendent Prestia were charged with manslaughter, negligent homicide, and reckless endangerment for sending Moncayo into the trench.

    All pleaded not guilty during the arraignment at State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

    Vance believes that Moncayo’s death was foreseeable and could have been avoided as there were multiple warnings issued about the safety hazards of the site prior to the unfortunate death of Moncayo. However, even amid the safety concerns, company supervisors Wilmer Cueva and Alfonso Prestia allowed the construction workers, including Moncayo, to continue working on the site.

    The charges brought forward by Vance come in the midst of concerns over the rising number of construction accidents. This, in turn, has triggered a task force to be created that will identify and prosecute companies for safety violations and corruption.

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