By Dan Hust
LIBERTY The owner of the Sungate Mobil gas station in Liberty and a coworker suffered serious injuries Saturday when a section of the roof of the station’s new, under-construction building collapsed on them.
According to Liberty Police Detective Sgt. Scott Kinne, Triqu (some reports list Tariq) Mohmood Guja and Franco Suquilanda were trapped in the wreckage of roof trusses being installed around noon on Saturday.
Guja, the owner, suffered a head injury and a collapsed lung, while Suquilanda endured injuries to both legs, said Kinne.
Guja was freed almost immediately, while Suquilanda took an hour to extricate with the help of the Liberty Police, the Sheriff’s Office, the NY State Police, MobileMedic, Liberty Fire Dept., Monticello FD Trench Rescue Team and similar teams from Orange County.
Both men remain in Westchester Medical Center, said Kinne, with Guja in critical but stable condition as of midday yesterday.
Four other workers escaped major injury and were treated at the scene for bumps and bruises.
Kinne said the investigation is ongoing by the Liberty Police, Code Enforcement Officer Pam Winters and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but he didn’t expect any charges to be filed.
The wind was strong that day, but Winters declined to speculate yesterday on the cause of the collapse, saying OSHA is completing its investigation.
She met with representatives from OSHA and the truss manufacturer yesterday, along with Guja’s company, Aerostar.
She secured permission from OSHA and a promise from Aerostar that the site could and would be cleaned up this week, since the busy Liberty Elementary School and Liberty Public Library sit across North Main Street from the station.
Winters, who had visited the work site Friday, confirmed the rebuilding job had no previous violations.
Whether or not construction will resume and if so, when it will be completed remains uncertain.
“I don’t see that happening right away,” Winters remarked, noting the serious injuries to the owner.