Authorities are investigating what caused a section of construction crane to plummet 30 floors into a home that a contractor used for storage, killing two people in the nation’s second deadly crane accident in 10 days.
The accident occurred at a downtown Miami high-rise condominium Tuesday when workers tried to raise the crane section to extend the equipment’s reach, said Miami fire spokesman Ignatius Carroll.
It fell 30 floors and smashed through the Spanish-tiled roof of a two-story house that was the home of Cameron Diaz’s character in the movie “There’s Something About Mary.” Five workers were hurt, one critically.
Terrance Hennessy, 59, a safety inspector for an insurance company, died at the scene, according to Miami police. Jeremy Thornsbury, 21, of Tamarac, died at a hospital, police said.
Investigators with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration were at the site Wednesday. A crane expert will also help in the investigation, said OSHA spokeswoman Darlene Fossum.
A canine team that surveyed the site of the more than 40-story Biscayne Bay luxury condo tower found no evidence of any trapped people, Carroll said.
The crane’s main vertical section was intact.
A 20-story crane toppled at a New York City construction site March 16, demolishing a four-story town house and killing seven people.
'Like a small earthquake' David Martinez, 31, a Miami pipe-fitter, was on the fourth floor of the condo building eating lunch Tuesday when the crash occurred.
“It was like a small earthquake,” he said. “We looked outside, and we couldn’t even see.” Martinez said it took several minutes for the dust to clear so he could see what had happened.
Mary Costello, a senior vice president for Bovis Lend Lease Holdings Inc., which was managing the construction, said the accident occurred when a subcontractor was trying to raise the crane section and it came loose. She said the company was cooperating fully with investigators.
“Our hearts are heavy at this moment for the two deceased individuals, including one of our own employees and the additional injured workers,” she said in a statement.
Florida does not regulate or license tower cranes and crane operators, but Representative Greg Evers is pushing a bill that would require crane operators to undergo training in the physics of picking up loads and in the limits of their equipment.
“Most of the errors that we find with the destruction of cranes, with cranes falling, is from the fact that we don’t have certified operators out there operating these cranes,” Evers said.
The subcontractor, Morrow Equipment Co., and the tower developer, Royal Palms Communities, did not return phone messages seeking comment.