Falling debris kills man in Soho

Falling debris dislodged from a fire escape in Soho struck and killed 58-year-old Garden City resident Richard Marchhart on Feb. 16.
Photo by Milo Hess


Falling debris from a Soho fire escape struck and killed a Long Island man on Feb. 16, and severely wounded a woman.

A privately contracted engineer was working her way down to the seventh floor of the fire escape as part of a routine inspection at 434 Broadway between Grand and Howard streets at 1:37 pm, when a loose tread broke off the metal stairway and plummeted to the sidewalk, striking 58-year-old Garden City resident Richard Marchhart and another passerby, according to police.

Paramedics rushed both wounded pedestrians to Bellevue Hospital for treatment, but were too late to save Marchhart, who perished at the Kips Bay medical center, cops said.

The other victim was in serious but stable condition, according to police.

The engineer suffered minor injuries as a result of the accident, according to a spokesman for the fire department.

Inspectors with the city’s buildings department descended on the nine-story commercial structure following the incident, and issued the owner a violation for failure to safeguard the building, according to Department of Building’s spokesman Andrew Rudansky.

The building’s owner ordered a sidewalk shed built beneath the fire escape over the weekend, and hired engineers who on Saturday found an additional three loose treads, which they secured, and removed some unstable railing, according to Rudansky.

The engineer involved in the accident was inspecting the building’s facade and fire escape for faults as required by city law for all buildings over six-stories tall, the buildings spokesman said.

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