Vol. 18, No. 24 Dec. 15 - 28,  2005


Worker Falls To Death in Bedford Park


At approximately 2 p.m. on Dec. 7, a construction worker fell five stories to his death while working on a Bedford Park apartment building.

The 29-year-old, who the city Medical Examiner’s office identified as Mohammad Nadeem, was apparently replacing brickwork above a window when he fell from scaffolding inside the courtyard of 2985 Botanical Square.

He landed on concrete and was pronounced DOA at St. Barnabas Hospital, according to police reports. Grace Brugess, a spokesperson for the city Medical Examiner’s office, said his death has been ruled an accident and gave the cause as blood trauma to the head and neck.

Police said the man fell from a makeshift scaffold, but weren’t releasing any more details at this time. When the Norwood News visited the building the next day, the scaffolding had been removed, although work was continuing at the site with workers wheelbarrowing rubble into a dumpster on the street.

Two men, a tenant and a delivery man, said workers had been using suspension scaffolding. “Yesterday [Dec.7] they had like three scaffolds and ropes everywhere, now there’s nothing. It’s all been taken down,” said the delivery man, who requested anonymity.

According to the Department of Buildings, which visited 2985 Botanical Square several hours after the incident, no permit had been issued for any building work, but neither did the Department find evidence that one was necessary. “By the time we got to the building, there was no evidence or activity,” said spokesperson Ilyse Fink.

As with all workplace deaths, OSHA (the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is investigating the incident. However, because the case has been opened, John Chavez, an OSHA spokesperson, couldn’t provide additional details.

The building is owned by Pinnacle, a company that has been the subject of several recent articles in the Norwood News because it has bought many Bronx buildings where tenants accuse the company of trying to force them out so Pinnacle can charge higher rents.

Mike Radoncic, a Pinnacle project manager, confirmed a man had died at the Botanical Square building but didn’t want to comment on what exactly happened because the work had been contracted out and he wasn’t present at the time of the incident. By the time he got to the scene, about 45 minutes after the accident, Nadeem had been taken to the hospital. When asked whether the company should have applied for a building permit, Radoncic was adamant.

”For this work there was no need for a permit,” he said. Sarwar Construction, the firm Nadeem had been working for, could not be reached for comment by press time.

Several tenants of Pinnacle buildings in Manhattan, however, say the company often skimps on permitting. “They photocopy permits from one apartment and then slap it on another,” said Marge Charron, a resident of 706 Riverside Dr., during a meeting of Pinnacle tenants in Harlem earlier this month.

Charron says she recently saw a permit outside an apartment for wall stripping, but upon inspection, saw much more extensive work under way. “They were actually renovating it,” she said.

Other tenants at the meeting — which was organized by a new coalition against Pinnacle’s practices — also had concerns about permitting. “There are often unlicensed people doing work without a permit [in my building],” said Debbie Brown, a resident of 700 Riverside Dr.

Additional reporting by Heather Haddon.

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