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Investigators search for cause of garage collapse in Boston that killed worker

A section of the Government Center garage that collapsed Saturday.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

As investigators searched for answers to a parking garage collapse at a downtown Boston construction site over the weekend, relatives of the man killed in the accident said Monday they are in shock over his death.

Peter Monsini, 51, of Easton, was operating a piece of heavy machinery at around 5:30 p.m. Saturday when the garage floor buckled beneath him. Monsini, who was working for JDC Demolition and was on his second day at the site, fell nine stories to the ground, officials said.

“He was a loving son, brother, father, uncle and friend,” the family said in a statement, which thanked emergency responders for their efforts in the immediate aftermath of the collapse. “He was full of life, passionate, thoughtful, and will be missed deeply by his family and partner Alicia.”

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Officials have released little information about the fatal collapse, including records related to the construction project. On Monday, however, they urged patience as investigators carry out a complicated review.

“It will take some time,” Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden said during a brief meeting with reporters. “This is a complex project, and this will be an intensive investigation ... our investigation will take a close look at every possible point of information to help determine what happened and how it happened.”

There were “no signs of overt criminality in this matter, such as terrorism or the like,” he said.

A police report released Monday provided some details of the collapse and its immediate aftermath. Craig Jones, a Boston police officer who was working a detail at the site, watched an occupied small demolition excavator, along with large slabs of concrete, tumble an estimated 100 feet from the partially demolished Government Center Garage. Afterward, when Jones told a supervisor for JDC Demolition to make sure all employees were accounted for, it was determined that one worker was missing, the report said.

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The collapse drew dozens of emergency response workers to the area and closed several area streets to traffic. Monsini’s body was recovered roughly three hours later, police said. An autopsy determined that he died from blunt force trauma.

Another person was hospitalized after the collapse, authorities have said. The condition of that victim remains unclear.

The construction work is part of a massive project known as Bulfinch Crossing, a mixed-use project that was proposed in 2008 and received city approval five years later.

Spread across nearly five acres, the project was envisioned as a way to connect multiple city neighborhoods, including the North and West ends, Beacon Hill, and the Financial District. It calls for 60 percent of the hulking 1960s-era garage to be demolished.

One of Bulfinch Crossing’s four planned buildings is complete: The Sudbury, a 46-story luxury condominium and apartment tower, opened last summer. Construction is well underway, meanwhile, on the 1 million-square-foot One Congress office tower, which is expected to open in 2023 and will serve as the headquarters of State Street Corp.

Last summer, the project received approval to swap a planned hotel, office, and residential building for one laboratory facility located between Merrimac Street and Surface Road. A fourth building is also planned.

In a statement Monday, the project’s developers — National Real Estate Advisors and HYM Investment Group — said they are cooperating fully with investigators, adding that the garage’s deconstruction was engineered by “leading industry experts and executed by some of the premier contractors in the region.”

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“All applicable permits were obtained and the overarching lens is that of safety,” the developers said. “As of yet, we do not have a full understanding of exactly what occurred.”

In 2018, an employee at J. Derenzo Company, a company that is related to JDC Demolition, died after sustaining injuries on the job while operating an excavator during the construction of the Encore casino in Everett.

Joe Teixeira, 56, of Seekonk 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. JDC Demolition and J. Derenzo Co. have the same corporate officers and list the same address in Brockton in state and federal records.

Monsini’s death marked the 67th construction-related death in Massachusetts in the past five years, according to the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health. The group cited demolition as a particularly dangerous form of construction work and said that such sites are required to take a variety of safety measures, including ongoing site evaluation.

”At worksites like the garage,” the group said in a statement, “the strength of the floors should have been evaluated and known so employers know how much machinery and debris can safely be on a floor.”

JDC Demolition, which is based in Brockton, said in a statement that “there are no words that appropriately describe the loss of Peter Monsini, our JDC Demolition teammate,” the company said

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In 1981, the Government Center Garage was closed for half a year after city officials deemed the property structurally unsafe — citing, among other issues, corroded steel supports and cracked, low-quality concrete, the Globe reported. The problems were so severe that city officials said during the closure that they were unsure the structure was salvageable. It was eventually reopened later that year.

While major streets surrounding Government Center reopened Monday, service at the MBTA’s Haymarket Station has been suspended while engineers inspect the tunnel for any structural damage that might have occurred during the collapse.

“There’s a lot of work that has to be done to investigate both what happened, and what would need to be done, and what kind of shape that whole area is in,” Governor Charlie Baker said Monday. Inspecting the tunnels could take several days, he said.

“During the process of doing that investigatory work, we’ll do what we can to make sure that people have the ability to get in and out of that area, but it’s probably going to come with some complexity.”

Orange Line service will be suspended between North Station and Back Bay until further notice, while the Green Line won’t run 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.

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On Monday, morning commuters were feeling the effects of the closures.

“An absolute nightmare,” said Nathan Fox, 32, as he took a shuttle bus to North Station.

Noelle Rudeen, 26, who was on a shuttle heading from Logan International Airport to the law office near North Station where she works, said many of her coworkers were affected.

Some, she said, had to leave earlier or take Ubers to ensure they were at work on time, or show up late.

“As an office, we’re trying to consider what is it that we’re going to be doing to deal with the disruptions,” Rudeen said.

Catherine Carlock and Andrea Estes of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Matt Yan contributed to this report.


John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him @JREbosglobe. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Dugan Arnett can be reached at dugan.arnett@globe.com.