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Boston detail officer witnessed fatal garage collapse

The site of the partial Government Center Garage collapseDavid L. Ryan/Globe Staff

A Boston police officer witnessed the Government Center Garage collapse that sent a piece of construction equipment plummeting about 100 feet Saturday afternoon, killing the operator, a police report said.

Officer Craig Jones, at about 5:39 p.m. Saturday “observed a major collapse involving an occupied mini demolition excavator,” the report said. Jones “observed the excavator along with large slabs of cement fall from approximately 100FT from the Government Center garage,” said the report, which was released Monday.

Peter F. Monsini, 51, of Easton, who was operating the excavator, died in the collapse, officials have said.

The police report said that an autopsy had determined that Monsini’s death was caused by “blunt force trauma” but the manner of death remained under investigation. The Boston police, Suffolk district attorney’s office, and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating, the report said.


The report said that after witnessing the incident, Jones immediately summoned help. He also informed a supervisor of JDC Demolition, the company that Monsini worked for, “to make sure all employees are accounted for.” The supervisor found that one person was missing. Boston EMS workers entered the scene and Monsini, the equipment operator, was pronounced “non-viable,” the report said. His body was recovered at 8:30 p.m.

Monsini’s family said Monday in a statement, “We are in shock and trying to process the loss of Peter. He was a loving son, brother, father, uncle and friend. He was full of life, passionate, thoughtful, and will be missed deeply by his family and partner Alicia.”

The family thanked first responders for coming to his aid. And it thanked Monsini’s union, and “neighbors, friends, and well-wishers near and far for the kind words we have received.”

Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin R. Hayden said Monday that a highly experienced prosecutor had been assigned to the case. “Our investigation will be careful and thorough, and it will take some time. This is a complex project, and this will be an intensive investigation,” he said.


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

He said his office sent its “deepest sympathies to Mr. Monsini’s family and to everyone who knew and loved him. Everything that I have read and heard about today indicates that he was a man that was deeply devoted to his son and his family and all of those who loved him so much.”

Governor Charlie Baker said Monday morning the incident was “a horrible tragedy for the gentleman who died, as well as his family, and, obviously, for all the co workers that are involved.”

JDC Demolition, in a statement this weekend, expressed sorrow over Monsini’s death. “There are no words that appropriately describe the loss of Peter Monsini, our JDC Demolition teammate,” the company said.

In 2018, an employee at J. Derenzo Company, a related company, died after sustaining injuries on the job while operating an excavator during 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, according to Middlesex District Attorney spokeswoman Meghan Kelly.

JDC Demolition and J. Derenzo Co. have the same corporate officers and list the same address in Brockton in state and federal records.


David Howe, president of J. Derenzo Co., 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.”

The MBTA’s Haymarket Station was closed Monday, but major streets around Government Center reopened.

The MBTA suspended subway service through Haymarket until engineers can assure the tunnels’ structural integrity was not compromised when tons of concrete fell onto the floor of the Government Center Garage. “The T will provide service updates to customers as this inspection work continues but anticipates these service impacts could last for several days,” T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an e-mail.

Baker said there was a “lot of work that has to be done” to both investigate the fatal incident - and the impact the collapse of the garage may have had on subway tunnels.

Baker said several days of disruptions to people’s commutes were likely because it was important to “tread” lightly on the site “as people do the work of investigating.”

“I would ask people to understand and recognize that it’s important that people be careful and cautious and go slow on this,” he said.

Construction work on the site is on hold.


Three construction workers were at the scene around 10 a.m. Monday, two of whom said they were employees of John Moriarty and Associates, a Winchester construction company. They declined to comment. Shortly before 1 p.m., clanking and grinding noises could be heard coming from the site and a small shower of sparks could be seen falling. But the activity subsided after a brief period.

Surface Road was blocked off with barriers between Sudbury Street and New Chardon Street.

Monsini’s sister described him Sunday 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 in a brief telephone interview.

His cousin, Rich Monsini, told WBZ-TV that his relative was very experienced in the demolition work. “He eats, sleeps, and drinks demolition, that’s his life,’' he said. “He just loved it. He got it from his dad and his brother, it’s in the family. I worked beside him. I would consider Peter to be a demolition expert.”

Peter Monsini grew up in Brockton and was on the Brockton High School football team that won a Super Bowl, Rich Monsini said.

Peter Monsini was a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 4 for the past 20 years, the union said this weekend. The union is providing grief counseling services to members and Monsini’s friends, a Local 4 official 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,” Bill McLaughlin, Local 4′s business manager, said in a statement this weekend.


Following the collapse, a second person “indirectly involved” in the incident was also hospitalized, officials said.

The collapse touched off a massive emergency response downtown, as nearby streets were blocked off and rescue crews raced to the scene.

The demolition work at the garage site was part of the ongoing Bulfinch Crossing development project.

The project’s developers, National Real Estate Advisors and The HYM Investment Group, said in a statement Monday, “Above all else, the Monsini family, friends, and union brothers and sisters continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.”

“The deconstruction of the Government Center Garage was engineered by leading industry experts and executed by some of the premier contractors in the region. All applicable permits were obtained and the overarching lens is that of safety. Safety for all who work on the project daily or simply walk or drive by it,” the statement said.

“In light of the terrible tragedy that occurred on Saturday evening, we are fully cooperating with investigators to gather all of the facts to make a true determination on what happened. As of yet, we do not have a full understanding of exactly what occurred,” the statement said.

The mixed-use project was first proposed in 2008 and approved by city officials five years later. Located on nearly five acres, the project, which calls for demolition of 60 percent of the hulking 1960s-era garage, was envisioned as a way to connect multiple city neighborhoods, including the North and West End, Beacon Hill and the Financial District.

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 on the 1 million-square-foot One Congress office tower, which will serve as the headquarters of State Street Corp. and is expected to open in 2023.

Developers last summer got city sign-off 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.

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 commute was “an absolute nightmare,” Nathan Fox, 32, said on the shuttle bus to North Station Monday morning.

“I didn’t even hear about this whole parking garage collapse until this morning, but obviously, with everything shut down, it added 30 [to] 45 minutes to the commute,” said Fox.

“This caused a large disruption to a significant amount of people, yes — but that’s city living for you,” Fox said.

Noelle Rudeen, 26, was on the shuttle, heading, with her luggage in tow, from Logan International Airport to the law office near North Station where she works.

She said she wasn’t the only one in the office whose trip had been disrupted. Many of her coworkers were affected. Some, she said, had to leave earlier, 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.

Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story misstated the results of an inspection into the 2018 death of a J. Derenzo Construction Co. employee. The company did not receive a citation in the man’s death.

Dugan Arnett, Travis Andersen, Catherine Carlock, and Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from prior Globe coverage was used in this report.

John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him @JREbosglobe. John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com. Charlie McKenna can be reached at charlie.mckenna@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @charliemckenna9. Matt Yan can be reached at matt.yan@globe.com. Follow him @matt_yan12.