Man killed by falling tape measure at Jersey City Construction Site

ConstructionSite

By The New York Times

A tower rising 50 stories. A one-pound tape measure attached to the waist of a construction worker. An unsuspecting man stepping from a vehicle at the foot of the building.

The three elements converged on Monday morning in a freakish accident, when a 58-year-old man died in Jersey City after being struck in the head by the tape measure after it fell some 400 feet.

The accident led to the suspension of work on one of the largest development projects in the city.

Looming above the Grove Street PATH station, the building at 70 Christopher Columbus Drive is near completion, and the man who died, Gary Anderson, had arrived at Marin Boulevard and Christopher Columbus Drive shortly before 9 a.m. to make a delivery of wallboard.

Mr. Anderson had just parked his truck and was not wearing a safety helmet when he stepped from the vehicle, said Carly Baldwin, a spokeswoman for the Jersey City Department of Public Safety.

High above him, a tape measure had slipped off the belt of a construction worker at the top of the tower.

As it plummeted, the tape measure struck a piece of metal equipment and shot toward Mr. Anderson.

It struck him in the head, knocking him unconscious. He was taken to Jersey City Medical Center, where he died shortly before 10 a.m.

By Monday afternoon, the commotion of the morning was over. A couple of blocks away, construction workers on Warren Street, part of a different project, were wrapping up their day. One man, Edwin González, 50, had heard what happened and talked about the perils of high-altitude construction work.

“A tape measure is like a gun at a construction site,” Mr. González said. “Like a police officer, you don’t pull it out unless you’re going to use it.”

Anyone who has ever glanced up into the clouds, marveling at a rising tower of glass and steel, has likely had a fleeting fear that some bit of debris might come tumbling down and spell his doom. However, such accidents are rare.

The company working at the site, AJD Construction, told investigators that its policy was that all people on the property wear helmets, and that it was not clear why Mr. Anderson did not have one on.

The project, which includes three residential towers and a hotel, has been billed as an important milestone in Jersey City’s revitalization. It is being overseen by Ironstate Development. The company did not return calls seeking comment.

The first building, 50 Columbus, is complete, and all 400 apartments were leased within the first year.

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