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New York crane rigger cleared

William Rapetti the New York tower crane rigger was acquitted yesterday of manslaughter charges relating to the crane collapse in 2008 that killed six crane erectors and a tourist.

Prosecutors claimed that Rapetti did a recklessly inadequate job of securing the crane as it was being climbed. Investigators say that the collapse was due to the failure of four heavy-duty polyester straps that Rapetti and his crew were using temporarily to hold one of the massive steel collars that tie the tower to the building.

The crane manufacturer’s instructions clearly call eight straps to be used, while Rapetti used only four, one of which was seriously worn, this in spite of having been given six new straps for the job. Prosecutors also claim that he didn't pad the straps at the corners to prevent fraying, something that the straps' warning labels call for.

The worn strap broke, overloading the remaining three straps and breaking them, the collar then dropped down the tower, slamming into and breaking the lower tie -ins leaving the crane unsupported.

The Defence said that the Rapetti did his work carefully and claimed that the crane collapsed due to engineering decisions and poor welding that weren't Rapetti's responsibility. They said that the beams connecting the collars to the building had failed and caused the collar to fall and that the lack of a base foundation allowed it to then fall away from the building.

Rapetti's company, Rapetti Rigging Services Inc., was also acquitted of manslaughter and other charges.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance said prosecutors were "extremely disappointed" by the verdict.
Click here to see report of first findings
Click here to see original report