Government Center garage collapse could impact MBTA Green, Orange line service for several days, agency says
By Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent
A South Easton construction worker killed when a portion of Boston’s Government Center garage collapsed during a demolition project Saturday was remembered as a devoted father and friend Sunday, as investigators searched for what caused the worksite tragedy.
Authorities have halted work at the sprawling construction site and suspended MBTA service along parts of the Green and Orange lines while inspecting subway tunnels that run under the garage to make sure they are safe.
Peter Monsini, 51, was identified Sunday as the man operating a piece of heavy machinery around 5:30 p.m. for JDC Demolition when the garage floor underneath him buckled.
The machine — with Monsini inside — fell about nine stories to the ground, officials said.
His sister on Sunday described him as a devoted father to his 17-year-old son.
“He was just very selfless and caring and loved his son more than anything,” Gina Ferrini said during a brief phone interview. “We are still processing things right now.”
In a statement Sunday, Bill McLaughlin, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 4, said Monsini had been a member of the union for 20 years.
He was a great friend to many of us and he will be sadly missed. Information on arrangements will be forthcoming at the direction of the family. Meanwhile, please keep Peter and his family in your thoughts and prayers,” McLaughlin said.
Local 4 is providing grief counseling services to members and Monsini’s friends through its Modern Assistance program, he said.
“We have formally expressed our thanks to the first responders and city officials who arrived on the scene – and we are working with them to support their investigation and all efforts to understand exactly what occurred,” McLaughlin said.
Following the collapse, a second person “indirectly involved” in the incident was hospitalized, officials said.
Work at the site remains suspended, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said in a Twitter post Sunday.
“Boston mourns the life of a construction worker lost in a horrible tragedy at the Government Center garage construction site. Our hearts are with his family & loved ones,” Wu said. “We’re working closely with authorities to investigate.”
The Suffolk District Attorney’s office and Boston Police’s homicide unit are investigating Monsini’s death, while the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking into the collapse itself, according to Sergeant Detective John Boyle, a police department spokesman. A spokeswoman for the Suffolk district attorney declined to comment Sunday.
On Sunday, the Boston Fire Department was assisting OSHA at the scene, fire department spokesman Brian Alkins said.
Monsini’s body was recovered from the site at about 9:15 p.m. Saturday, according to Alkins. An autopsy was conducted Sunday, Boyle said.
The tragedy is expected to impact the Monday morning commute. Several local roads near the site will likely remain closed, Boyle said.
Green Line and Orange Line service will be suspended in the area until structural engineers confirm it is safe to use the tunnels under the garage, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said.
Orange Line service will be suspended between North Station and Back Bay, while the Green Line won’t operate between North Station and Government Center. Buses will replace service between the Green line stops. Orange Line customers with destinations between Downtown Crossing and Back Bay are encouraged to use the Green Line stations between Park and Copley Stations, the MBTA said. The agency encouraged commuters to work from home due to expected delays.
“The T will provide service updates to customers as this inspection work continues, but anticipates these service impacts could last for several days,” the statement said.
Saturday’s garage collapse touched off a massive emergency response downtown, as nearby streets were blocked and rescue crews raced to the scene in a frantic effort to try to save the worker’s life.
The demolition work is part of the Bulfinch Crossing development project, which includes an overhaul of the Government Center Garage as a 12-story life sciences building.
The project’s developers, National Real Estate Advisors and The HYM Investment Group, in a statement Sunday said they were “heartbroken and devastated” by Monsini’s death.
They praised the work of first responders and said they are working closely with investigators. The developers said “the safety of the women and men that work on our developments is our greatest priority” and noted that the won’t resume “until we are satisfied it is safe to do so.”
At the time of the collapse, Monsini was working at the site for JDC Demolition, which was subcontracted to conduct demolition work on the garage, according to the company.
JDC Demolition, in a statement, expressed remorse for Monsini’s death.
There are no words that appropriately describe the loss of Peter Monsini, our JDC Demolition teammate,” the company said.
David Howe, president of J. Derenzo Company, the parent company of JDC Demolition, declined to comment specifically Sunday on Monsini’s death or about safety conditions at the worksite.
“Obviously my heart and prayers go out to the family,” he said during a telephone interview. “It’s just a devastating incident, and we’ll get to the bottom of what’s going on and what happened. We don’t really know much right now.”
Saturday’s collapse was not the first time the company has faced a workplace tragedy.
In 2018, J. Derenzo Company employee Joe Teixeira, 56, of Seekonk died after sustaining injuries on the job while operating an excavator during construction of the Encore casino in Everett.
Teixeira regained consciousness at the scene before being taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he died, according to the Middlesex District Attorney’s office at the time.
The case did not result in criminal charges, according to Middlesex District Attorney spokeswoman Meghan Kelly.
The nature of Saturday’s garage collapse in Boston sparked criticism about the project’s safety precautions.
Andrew Duffy, a Philadelphia attorney who specializes in construction accidents, said that accidents of the scale of the garage collapse do not happen when demolition projects are planned and executed with the proper safety procedures.
Under OSHA regulations, demolition plans must identify the potential hazards involved with a project before they can be signed off on. During demolition work, a so-called “OSHA competent person,” or someone who understands the hazards of the work and can watch for potential safety issues, must be onsite at all times, he said.
Demolition is the single most dangerous aspect of construction work, and the safety planning that goes into these projects is immense,” Duffy said. “Simply put, this horrific tragedy does not occur on a well-planned, safe demolition site.”
On Sunday, roads around the Government Center garage remained closed, and investigators spent much of the day working at the scene. Piles of rubble were visible in the afternoon, and a piece of heavy machinery was still partially buried in debris near Surface Road.
Tyler Apanell, 34, was in his 11th floor apartment on Canal Street around 5:30 p.m. Saturday when he felt his building shake for about three seconds.
Apanell said a piece of heavy machinery had been used by workers for a few days on the garage roof.
When he went outside to investigate the collapse, he spotted the same piece of equipment on its side in a pile of rubble.
“Freak accident,” Apanell said. “It’s awful.”
North End resident Mark Gemelli, 67, whose home is about 300 feet from the site, said he was in his living room when the collapse occurred.
“What sounded like thunder was the building coming down,” Gemelli said. “Life is short. Anything can happen at any time.”
Dugan Arnett, Andrea Estes, and Michael Bello of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Nick Stoico contributed to this report.