27th April 2019 – A tower crane at Seattle has toppled from the under construction new Google Seattle campus onto the public road during its disassembling process and killing 4 people. Authorities and experts are looking into the cause of the fatal accident, including gusty winds and human error.
The entire tower crane collapsed footage has been caught on camera via a vehicle’s dash cam that is passing through Mercer Street in South Lake Union. The tower crane crashed onto the roof of the Google Seattle campus, breaking into pieces and falling onto the vehicles driving on Mercer Street, one of the busiest’s road in the city. (Check out more videos and news update on our Youtube’s playlist)
Four-person has been killed in the fatal accident, including a freshman college student, a former city employee and two ironworkers who had served in the Marines. The victims have been identified as follows:
- Sarah Wong, 19, a California native and student at Seattle Pacific University, died when one of the tower crane components has landed on the Uber vehicle she was in with a friend. The university has released a statement to console Sarah’s family and friends.
- Alan Justad, 71, who has worked in the administration of two former Seattle mayors before retiring in 2014. He is also a father of three daughters and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan released a statement to pay her respects to the deceased.
- Andrew Yoder, 31, one of two ironworkers working in Iron Workers Local 86. He was a young father, a devout Christian and a Marine.
- Travis Corbet, the second ironworker killed and like Yoder, both served in the Marine Corps for five years. His wife Samantha Corbet have been together for seven years and married last June. They planned for a honeymoon trip this June to celebrate their first year anniversary.
The cause of the collapse is under investigation and accordingly to Tim Church, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor & Industries stated it may take up to six months to complete the investigation. This is to facilitate access to interview workers, company records and perform other investigation works. Currently, five companies are now under investigation.
Wind or Human Error ?
Although the investigation is ongoing, some experts are suggesting that human error could have played a major part in the catastrophic accident. Timothy Galarnyk, president of the Minnesota consulting firm Construction Risk Management Inc., believes there’s a 99% chance that this is a human error cause and not a structural or mechanical failure by the machine. The workers likely did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dismantling of the tower crane. The National Weather Service has tweeted that a storm brought a gust of wind reaching 23 mph around the time of the collapse but said that would not probably strong enough to cause the tower crane to toppled by itself.
Meanwhile, David L. Kwass, a trial attorney who has handled crane accident lawsuits, said it looked like the connecting pins of the tower crane’s masts could have been remove prematurely, facilitating the fall. One of the possibilities is that the ironworkers went all the way down to the base of the crane to remove the pins and with the portions of the cranes unsecured and unstable, the weight shift, along with the wind gusts could have contributed to the collapse.
According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 44 people was killed in crane-related accidents from 2011 to 2015, notably the below cases:
- A construction crane was dismantling when it fell across a building at The University of Texas at Dallas in 2012, killing two workers. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/richardson/2012/07/07/2-killed-in-crane-collapse-at-university-of-texas-at-dallas-in-richardson
- A crane came down in lower Manhattan in 2016, crushing several parked cars and killing one person inside. The investigation found that the operator failed to properly secure the rig.
- Hurricane Irma caused three cranes to collapsed in south Florida in 2017. Although the cranes were designed to withstand 95 mph winds, they could not be outmatched by the force of the hurricane.
If you are interested in knowing more about the accidents and its updates, you can visit our Cranepedia’s youtube channel, which we have dedicated a Seattle Crane Collapse playlist. Alternatively, we have also collected the news on our Pinterest’s account, under the Seattle Crane Collapse board.