A construction worker was killed Wednesday afternoon on a 220-foot crane in Milwaukee when a part of the crane hit him in the chest.
Roth, a site foreman, was working on a crane with four co-workers when a 15-foot piece called the “queen’s post” struck him, according to John Rodell, vice president of Findorff Inc., the company that owns the crane.
The crane is at the 3400 block of North Maryland Street on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus. Roth was working on a fourth Sandburg Towers dormitory on the UW-Milwaukee campus.
Four firefighters and a paramedic had to climb the 220-foot crane to get to Roth, who was lying unconscious on the crane’s platform, said Milwaukee Fire Department Lt. Terry Lintonen.
Lintonen was part of the rescue team that climbed up the 220-foot crane. He said that when he got there, the worker was lying on his back without any visible injuries and that the man was still breathing.
The rescue crew was double-harnessed and carrying 660 feet of rope as they scaled the crane’s middle ladder.
“You get quite focused on where you are going,” said Lintonen. “I have to make sure none of my group stumbles or trips.”
Rescuers eventually used a basket from another crane to lower Roth to the ground, where he was pronounced dead.
It was unclear why the piece moved, but it did not appear that wind was involved, Rodell said. But he could not say whether a mechanical failure or human error caused the accident.
The Medical Examiner’s Office was expected to release a cause of death Thursday.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Milwaukee branch is investigating the accident, said agency spokeswoman Bonnie Friedman in Washington. OSHA investigators planned to take a video of the accident scene, Rodell said. It was Findorff’s first worksite fatality in the company’s 110-year history, he said.
Wednesday’s accident is the second incident involving a crane in Milwaukee in little more than a year. A crane collapse last July at Miller Park, the Milwaukee Brewers’ new home, killed three iron workers and set the project back a year. OSHA cited three construction firms in that accident for, among other problems, allowing the
crane to lift a piece of the stadium’s roof in heavy wind.
Roth had worked for Madison’s J.H. Findorff and Sons Construction Co. for nine or 10 years. Roth’s father and brother also work for the company.
UW-M Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said in a statement that the school extends its deepest sympathies and said it will cooperate with the investigation any way it can.