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When the crane collapsed

By Lisa Green, Senior producer, NBC News

Once I heard about the collapse, realized why helicopters were whirring past my Upper East Side apartment, and touched base with my colleague at Today, I headed to the accident site just a couple of blocks away to look for eyewitnesses who could describe what happened to our viewers.

As is often the case, even in New York City, people who moments ago had experienced a terrifying event were gracious enough to stop and share stories. Tara Hamilton, a resident of the 22d floor of the white brick high-rise hit by the crane, made it out with her two dogs and her valuables, but not before watching water damage begin to wreck her home. Nathan Cochran, her neighbor, was in bed when the accident occurred, but managed to scramble out and offer to help in the rescue effort. And Leonard La Russo, who had just relocated from a higher floor apartment in the same building that was now damaged in the wreck, to one on a lower floor, was aware of his good timing.

To a person, all residents I interviewed said they immediately knew, without seeing it, that the crane was what caused their building to shake as if an earthquake had hit. All said they worried, at least a little, about the towering crane in their vicinity, especially after the March accident.

In short order, I was joined by Lester Holt, my Today colleague, and producer Stephen Weeke and their crew, and they got on tape what I had managed to scribble down on paper -- stories of shocked Upper East Siders whose sunny Friday had been shattered by an accident.