New York, NY Ceiling Collapses at World's Fair Railroad Exhibit, Dec 1940

Five men were killed and two
others were seriously injured a little
before noon yesterday at the
World's Fair when a false ceiling in
the Railroads Exhibit, which was
being demolished in sections, collapsed
and they fell with it about
fifty feet to the floor of the building.
The floor had been littered knee
deep with plaster and other debris.
The seven men fell upon this litter
and about a ton of plaster, metal
and iron mesh from the collapsing
ceiling which measured 540 feet in
circumference showered down on
Two Killed Instantly
Workmen rushed into the building
and dug out the victims. Two
of the men were killed instantly.
They were Frank Ostopowitz, 49
years old, of 2051 E a s t Fifty-fifth
Street, Brooklyn, and Konan Ribachuk,
50, of 1515 Liabury Place,
Brooklyn. Stanley Stepura, 26, of
263 Avenue B, Manhattan, died in
Flushing Hospital. He was injured
internally and his skull was fractured.
Joseph Remey, 39, of 1536
White Plains Road, the Bronx, similarly
injured, died in the same
hospital without regaining consciousness.
John Skakandy, 28, of
316 East Seventy-first Street,
Brooklyn, in Flushing Hospital,
died last night.
The seriously hurt were Peter
Yessis, 39, of 1157 East Eightyseventh
Street, Brooklyn, in Queens
General Hospital, who received deep
contusions of the chest, and Joseph
Lumemia, 41, of 506 East Thirteenth
Street, Manhattan, in Queens General
Hospital, fractures of both
ankles and h i s left knee.
When the ceiling collapsed, fifteen
other men, all employed by the
Wreckers and Excavators, Inc., of
100 Fifth Avenue, were working on
top of the large dome of the building,
directly above the false ceiling.
This crew descended on aerial ladders
attached to t h e exterior of the
building. About fifty other employees
were working at the time of the
collapse in other parts of the huge
No Evidence of Negligence
After an investigation of several
hours, John H. Krogmann, assistant
district attorney of Queens, announced
that "at the present time,
there is no evidence of criminal
negligence." After questioning H.
B. Makofsky, president of the
wrecking company; Solomon Heifeimer,
the secretary; two foremen,
Alex Bachersky and Michael Novak,
and seven laborers, Mr. Krogmann
said that "no one could give any
definite explanation or reason as to
the cause of the collapse."
Mr. Krogmann added that the
iron rods which supported the
hanging ceiling would be sent to
the Police Laboratory for analysis.
One of the Fair engineers advanced
the theory that the cold weather
might have caused the iron rods
to snap.

Dec. 5, 1940 edition of "The New York Times"