Investigators Probe Deadly Crane Collapse

Staff | September 28, 2010

Bellevue, Wash.— A tower crane collapsed and struck three buildings in downtown Bellevue on Nov. 16, killing one man inside a top-floor apartment that was hit by the crane's boom.

The crane was working on the Tower 333 office building project in downtown Bellevue when it toppled just before 8 p.m., fire department Lt. Bruce Kroon said.

The crane's operator suffered minor injuries but was able to pull himself out of the cage, which came to rest about 20 feet to 30 feet above the ground, and was taken to a hospital.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known, and an investigation is under way.

The crane had been anchored in a pit about five stories deep, and the wreckage was left hanging over the street while safety investigators from the state Department of Labor and Industries were brought in.

The crane, which was rented by general contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis from Morrow Equipment Co., installed by Northwest Tower Crane Service Inc. and operated by Ness Cranes, stood 210 feet tall and had a 154-foot boom.

A structural engineer hired by Lease Crutcher Lewis said the problem may have originated near the base of the crane. The crane was mounted on an unusual foundation of steel I-beams instead of the customary concrete slab, and the crane's tower was bent near the foundation.