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Feb 5, 2009 5:33 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Vigil for fallen construction worker planned

Feb 5, 2009 5:33 PM

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health is planning a vigil Sunday to protest the death of Facundo Gonzalez, the construction worker who died January 5 after he was pinned under a collapsed foundation at a work site in Southampton Village.

The rally is expected to start at noon at 232 North Sea Road, the site of the accident, where a single-family home is under construction. The event is being co-sponsored by several organizations that advocate workers’ and immigrants’ rights, including Organización Latino Americana of Eastern Long Island, the East Hampton Anti-Bias Task Force, Long Island Immigrant Alliance, the Immigrant Worker Occupational Health and Safety Committee of the Workplace Project, and Jobs with Justice.

“Three workers have been killed on Long Island since November and we know that behind these workplace fatalities there must be many more unreported incidents of serious injuries and near misses,” said David Pratt, safety and health specialist for New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, in a press release. “OSHA and other enforcement agencies need more funding and more staff to fulfill their mission to ensure worker safety and health on the job.”

At the time of the accident, Mr. Gonzalez had been digging underneath the foundation wall so that a footer—a structural support that should have been put in before the wall—could be installed, according to village officials. The wall toppled over and crushed him. Village emergency personnel unpinned Mr. Gonzalez and rushed him to the hospital, but he died from his injuries.

Originally from Hidalgo, Mexico, Mr. Gonzalez had been living for several years with his brother Cecilio and uncle Benjamin in Medford, according to the family’s attorney, Jay W. Dankner.

“He was regularly sending money to his mother and others in Mexico and supporting them,” the attorney said. He said the victim’s immigration status is still under investigation.

Mr. Dankner of the law firm Dankner & Milstein, which has offices in both New York City and Southampton, said his firm is now pursuing a wrongful-death lawsuit. The homeowner, Valerie Revere, the general contractor, Bérube & Son Construction, the subcontractor, Saldana’s Concrete Corporation, and the architect could all be named in the lawsuit, according to Mr. Dankner.

“They’re all viable defendants,” he said, noting that the lawsuit could be filed in as few as two months.

A pain-and-suffering lawsuit might follow, because there was evidence that Mr. Gonzalez was screaming in pain before he died, Mr. Danker said.

Alejandro Saldana of Saldana’s Concrete’s referred calls about the case to his attorney, William T. LaVelle of Patchogue, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

Gaetan Bérube of Bérube & Son did not immediately return a request for comment and Ms. Revere could not be reached.

“Just based upon the scant information we have now, there were obvious violations under the labor law,” Mr. Dankner said.

A stop-work order put on the construction site after the accident read: “You have failed to comply with the provisions of the New York State building code,” and “A dangerous and unsafe condition exists.”

The Southampton Village Building Department also issued summonses to Saldana’s and Bérube & Son for violating state building code.

“Obviously, Mr. Gonzalez was not given a safe place to work,” Mr. Dankner said.

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This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mo (89), Sag Harbor on Feb 5, 09 9:56 PM
The tragedy of the life on Mr. Gonzalez is that he is part of the new American slave class.This sham is allowed to fester by greedy contractors, by community activist groups and individuals listed above that feed off of this misery to justify their existence, and a liberal/progressive political establishment that allows illegal immigration at the expense of the legal pathway that was available to him in his country and that many scores of his fellow citizens dutifully follow. American citizens should ...more
By tom (53), Hampton Bays on Feb 7, 09 3:38 PM
The vigil is this Sunday Feb. 8, 2009 at noon-at least that is what I read in Newsday. For some reason 27east doesn't give the date?? Mistakenly I went today-no vigil-but I saw a backhoe removing the faulty foundation?

Vigil: Sunday February 8, 2009 at 12 noon.
By evergreen (19), Southampton on Feb 8, 09 12:28 AM
The first paragraph of the story says it's Sunday, and the second paragraph indicated noon. Sorry that the second paragraph was misleading, and made you think the vigil was noon of the day you were reading the story.
By BOReilly (135), Hampton Bays on Feb 8, 09 11:31 AM