Piano Row accident#039;s two-year anniversary today

by Beacon Staff • April 2, 2008

Students who were here at the time can probably recall their exact location on the day that two Macomber Builders workers Romildo DaSilva, 27, and Robert Bean, 41, fell from scaffolding on the under-construction building.,Two years ago today, Piano Row's construction was interrupted by an accident that left three people dead and the Emerson community in shock.

Students who were here at the time can probably recall their exact location on the day that two Macomber Builders workers Romildo DaSilva, 27, and Robert Bean, 41, fell from scaffolding on the under-construction building. The debris also killed a motorist in the traffic below, physician Dr. Michael Ty.

"I was coming out of my psychology class," film major Danielle Randall said. "I went to the bathroom on the second floor of Walker, and all of the sudden I felt this huge jolt, like someone had dropped a really heavy backpack on the floor."

Randall, now a senior, then exited onto Boylston to find a crowd of people surrounding the scene.

"We could see the crushed car, which was pretty upsetting," she said.

The three men are memorialized on a plaque outside the building. Some students have pointed out that Romildo DaSilva's name is spelled "Romildo Silva" on the commemorative inscription.

Though it may seem so at first glance, the spelling is not a misprint.

"His paycheck said Silva, everyone on the job called him Silva," said Vice President of Public Affairs David Rosen. "We offered to change it, but we confirmed with the family's attorney that they were content [with the dedication]."

However, while the Emerson community continues to sympathize with the families of the victims, many of the students that were here when the accident happened are in agreement about keeping the tragedy's anniversary low-key.

"I don't feel that Emerson College has a moral obligation [to commemorate the accident]," said junior Eric Tollar, who photographed the event from the nearby Walker Building. "As far as liability goes, it wasn't Emerson's responsibility. It was the carelessness of the construction company."

The organizational and political communication major said he saw scaffolding in the debris that was clearly bent out of shape, and believes that Macomber shoulders the burden of accountability.

In regards to the accident, President of Macomber Builders John D. Macomber told the Boston Business Journal that "other than hoping the guys didn't pull the pin on that scaffolding, I'm not sure what we would've done different."

He added that he believed the episode definitely took a toll on the company's reputation. Macomber went out of business in January of this year.

Current Piano Row residents interviewed said they feel life must go on.

"I don't feel weird living in this building," said sophomore Piano Row resident Jessie McAskill, "but I understand students who witnessed the events happening having an issue with it."

Conversely, those that saw the accident understand that Piano Row's residents have little personal connection to the accident.

Senior Samantha Baime, who also photographed the accident, said she sometimes feels uncomfortable being inside the dormitory.

But the former Beacon photography editor also said she understands that residents who weren't at Emerson when the incident occurred might not feel affected by it.

Rosen said the College doesn't plan to hold any kind of service or commemoration this year, but he encouraged the student body to react to the anniversary on their own time.

"If the students wanted to do something that would be great," he said.