Construction Worker Killed in Brooklyn Building Collapse

A construction worker was pinned under debris and killed on Friday when the first floor collapsed at a Brooklyn home whose owner had been cited for construction without a permit.

The man was found by officers who came to investigate the report of a collapsed building at 1266 50th Street in the Borough Park neighborhood. The worker was found unconscious, the police said, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Three people were working in the cellar just after noon when steel decks being used to build the first floor gave way and collapsed in a V shape, said Joseph Ferrante, an assistant chief of the New York Fire Department, in a news briefing on Thursday. The exact cause of the collapse is unknown, he said, but there was construction material found on the first floor.

Officials did not identify the victim. There were no other victims, Mr. Ferrante said, nor was there damage to neighboring homes.

The collapse occurred on a mostly residential street of small brick apartment buildings and townhouses. As emergency crews worked, dozens of people gathered on the curb and on nearby building stoops under a light rain to watch the firefighters, building inspectors and police officers who had shown up in force.

Many onlookers lingered as the emergency response tapered off, leaving a smaller group of officers and inspectors and a cleaning crew in yellow vests to deal with the aftermath of the collapse.

The home’s owner, Juda Horowitz, was cited in January for having construction done without a permit, according to Department of Buildings records. Mr. Horowitz was also issued a partial stop-work order.

Mr. Horowitz did not immediately respond to calls and an email on Friday afternoon.

Inspectors went to the home in December after receiving two complaints, but were unable to gain access, James Oddo, the buildings commissioner, said at the briefing. When inspectors returned in January, they saw excavation being done and ordered a halt. The city had not been given plans for the construction, Mr. Oddo said.

A violation hearing for the summons had been scheduled at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings for March 13.

“The only work that should have been done at this site is to make this site safe,” Mr. Oddo said. “And as you can see, that stop-work order was violated.” The owner may face fines “in the six figures,” he said.

“This fatality absolutely should not have happened,” Mr. Oddo said. “They should not have been doing this work.”

Shortly before 2 p.m., firefighters carried a body bag out of the building and loaded it into the back door of a city government van as emergency workers and neighbors watched quietly. After several minutes, the van’s driver pulled away.

Matthew Haag and Patrick McGeehan contributed reporting. Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.

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