subscribe to ENR magazine subscribe
contact us
careers industry jobs
events events
Dodge Data & Analytics
ENR Logo
Web access will be provided
as part of your subscription.

Michael Alacha: Risked His Life To Protect Others From NYC's Dangling Crane

Text size: A A
Alacha (right) hardly slept after Sandy as engineers devised a method to secure the crane.
----- Advertising -----

Michael Alacha thought he was prepared for Superstorm Sandy. Days before the storm, the assistant commissioner for New York City's Dept. of Buildings made sure the agency issued wind advisories, even going so far as to require crane users to inspect their machines to ensure they were shut down properly for high winds.

Still, on Oct. 29 as Sandy blew in, the unthinkable happened. Winds near 100 mph buffeted a 1,000-ft-tall skyscraper under construction on Manhattan's West 57th Street, flipping over the jib of a tower crane like a wet noodle. Tens of thousands of pounds of limp steel, wire rope and other debris dangled precariously over midtown Manhattan.


Stationed at his office's emergency response center, Alacha, 54, witnessed the event on television and raced to the scene. "My concern was the crane's connection to the building, specifically the top tie," Alacha recalls. "If that was compromised, with the storm still halfway through, the entire mast may have collapsed."

Alacha met with Tim Lynch, a city forensic engineer, and a safety expert with Lend Lease, the building's construction manager. The three men took an elevator to the 20th floor. From there, they made a long climb to the top of the building—up to the 75th floor—to inspect the crane.

The noise and pressure from the wind was overwhelming. "I felt something fly by my eyes," Alacha recalls. "Seconds later, I realized they were my glasses."

In a few days, the crane was secure and nearby buildings re-opened. His quick thinking made a difference. The damaged rig is due to be replaced by March.

"I think Mike Alacha handled the situation very well," says Peter Stroh, who engineered the original crane ties. "He kept a very calm head."



----- Advertising -----
  Blogs: ENR Staff   Blogs: Other Voices  
Critical Path: ENR's editors and bloggers deliver their insights, opinions, cool-headed analysis and hot-headed rantings
Project Leads/Pulse

Gives readers a glimpse of who is planning and constructing some of the largest projects throughout the U.S. Much information for pulse is derived from McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge.

For more information on a project in Pulse that has a DR#, or for general information on Dodge products and services, please visit our Website at

Information is provided on construction projects in following stages in each issue of ENR: Planning, Contracts/Bids/Proposals and Bid/Proposal Dates.

View all Project Leads/Pulse »

 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.