May 4, 2019
At least four people died and three more were injured when a crane collapsed at a construction site in Seattle in April. The accident happened at the future site of Google’s Seattle campus while the crane, which was at the top of two technology buildings, was being dismantled. Authorities are now investigating what caused the crane to collapse, crushing cars on the street below.
The horrifying construction accident, which killed construction workers and people on the road below, is a stark reminder of how dangerous construction sites can be for workers and those passing by. Although this tragedy occurred in Seattle, it can happen anywhere and shows how vital it is that construction sites and equipment be kept as safe and hazard-free as possible.
Victims Were in the Crane and in Cars Below Construction Site
The accident happened at around 3:30 pm on Saturday, April 28, near the intersection of Fairview Ave. North and Mercer Street, in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.
According to the Seattle Fire Department, three men and one woman died. Two of the men were working in the crane when it collapsed and the other man and the woman were in vehicles crushed when the crane fell. Another three individuals—one man, one woman, and an infant girl—went to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. At least five cars were crushed by the falling crane.
- Sarah Wong, 19, a student at Seattle Pacific University, who was in an Uber with a friend;
- Alan Justad, 71, a public servant;
- Andrew Yoder, 31, an ironworker and Marine who was in the crane; and
- Travis Corbet, an ironworker and Marine.
Witnesses Describe Terrifying Collapse
Esther Nelson works in a building near the accident and saw the crane fall eight or nine stories from her view through a break-room window. She called the sight terrifying.
“Half of [the crane] was flying down sideways on the building,” Nelson said. “The other half fell down on the street, crossing both lanes of traffic.”
Deyan Cashmere saw the crane before it collapsed and told reporters he thought it was leaning and appeared about to fall because its weight was not properly distributed.
Driving beneath the site, Corina Berriel narrowly missed disaster when the crane fell on the car immediately behind her. She described the jolt as being like an earthquake and said she thought she was about to die. The woman in the car behind Berriel got out and ran from the scene, as did people walking on the street.
Officials Investigating Crane Collapse
Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries is investigating the cause of the crane collapse. Early reports indicate workers were dismantling the crane amid high winds. Nelson said boats on Lake Union had trouble in the gusts of wind. The National Weather Service said the wind reached up to 23 miles per hour, which the service said was probably not strong enough alone to have caused the collapse.
“It looked like something had exploded, there was such carnage there,” said Tim Church, Washington State Labor & Industries spokesperson. “You can’t help but be moved when you see cars crushed and pieces of machinery that are supposed to be upright laying in the street. It was clear people were hurt and dead from this.”
Washington State Labor & Industries are investigating GLY, the general contractor for the building; Northwest Tower Cranes Service Inc. which was in charge of taking the crane apart; Omega Rigging and Machinery Moving Inc., which was in charge of lifting and moving disassembled crane segments; and Morrow Equipment Company LLC, which owned the tower and oversees the crane disassembly. So far, officials have not accused the companies of any wrongdoing in the crane collapse.
Construction zones can be deadly for the people who work in them and also for those passing by. That is why it is vital that safety regulations are upheld and employees are adequately trained in safety procedures and given proper protective gear.
If you were injured in a construction accident—as a worker or as a passerby—you need an attorney who is committed to meticulously investigating your claim and has the skills and resources to manage a complex case.
At Cutter Law, we have been fighting for strengthened safety protections for decades and are proud to have taken on cases that resulted in employers and construction companies taking employee safety more seriously.