NYC Crane Rigger Acquitted of Manslaughter

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Crane rigger William Rapetti was acquitted on Thursday of manslaughter charges in a case that involved the collapse of a nearly 200-foot crane near the United Nations headquarters in New York City in 2008. The accident killed six construction workers, one tourist and hurt two dozen people when it fell on top of a building on 50th Street near Second Avenue on March 15, 2008.

Rapetti was also acquitted of failing to file his business taxes with New York City.

Prosecutors had argued that Rapetti did not secure the crane as it was being extended upward, and specifically that the four heavy-duty polyester straps he used to fasten a steel collar around the crane were not sufficient for the job. The prosecution said that one strap was too worn to be used and that Rapetti didn't pad the straps to keep them from fraying against the crane's edges.

"He disregarded every standard that applied to this job," Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Deborah Hickey said in a closing argument, according to The Associated Press.

Rapetti's attorneys argued that their client had secured the crane properly but that the crane's shoddy welding and problematic metal beams triggered the accident. They also claimed that it was the crane's faulty design, and not Rapetti's actions, which caused the collapse.

"When you look at the complete picture ... it's blatantly obvious that there was no recklessness by Mr. Rapetti," defense lawyer Arthur Aidala said during his closing argument, according to The AP.

The judge ruled on the case after a monthlong trial.

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