Investigation Continues Into Cause of NYC Building Collapse

Wed July 27, 2005 - Northeast Edition

By David B. Caruso


NEW YORK (AP) A 7-month-old girl who survived a building collapse when her deluxe stroller folded around her like a cocoon was expected to be released from the hospital soon, her family said July 15.

Paramedics said tiny Abby Lurensky initially was unresponsive and turning blue when bystanders dug through a tangle of concrete and steel on July 14 to free her crumpled carriage from the wreckage of a supermarket being demolished on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

But the child was largely unhurt, due to the cover from the shower of debris provided by her SUV-like Mountain Buggy Urban Double Stroller and to her attentive nanny, Brunilda Tirado.

Tirado tried to shield Abby from the falling debris, then cried “Help my baby!” to rescuers after she was flung to the sidewalk and half-buried in the rubble. She was recuperating July 15 at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center from a broken leg and broken arm; the baby was still in the hospital that night and was in stable condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The baby’s parents praised the nanny.

“Our nanny, Brunilda Tirado, is our hero,” Steven and Heidi Lurensky, said in a written statement.

Through an attorney, they declined to be interviewed about the accident.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office said July 15 it was investigating the collapse.

The city’s buildings department stopped work at the construction site immediately after the accident and issued citations for three alleged safety violations to the company demolishing the building, Safeway Environmental Corp.

City inspectors said the company failed to remove heavy heating and air-conditioning equipment from the building’s roof before beginning the demolition and used an unauthorized piece of heavy equipment to knock down parts of the structure, Department of Buildings Spokeswoman Ilyse Fink said.

Company officials did not return messages left at their Bronx offices July 15.

The accident also is being investigated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The former grocery store, set on Broadway in one of New York’s wealthiest neighborhoods, is being knocked down to make way for a high-rise condominium tower.

When Abby returns home, she may have a new stroller waiting to replace her ruined one.

Sycamore Kids Inc., the Fort Collins, CO-based company that distributes the New Zealand-made Mountain Buggy stroller in the United States, said it plans to donate a replacement.

“We’re just thankful that the baby is fine,” Sycamore Kids President Alan Jurysta said.

The strollers, made of padded fabric stretched over lightweight aluminum frames, ride on 12-in. air-filled tires and retail for more than $600 each.

The 2005 model of the Mountain Buggy Urban Double Stroller recently was recalled for a potential safety hazard, though: Its adjustable handle can crack or break if put under too much stress, the company said.