Crane Accidents

Crane Smashes Through Santa Rosa House

11/16/09

Santa Rosa, California

Mobile Crane Smashes Home Santa Rosa California 2009Efforts got underway early Tuesday to ready for the removal of a toppled crane that smashed through the top of a northwest Santa Rosa home Monday afternoon.

City, state and crane company officials were gathering to plan and oversee the effort, which was expected to take much of the day Tuesday.

Another crane came in from Petaluma Tuesday morning to the Molly Court home. The plan was to use that crane to raise the fallen boom and right the upended crane.

It is the third crane on the job.

The problem began Monday when a crane weighing more than 100,000 pounds toppled backward and sliced a Santa Rosa home nearly in half as workers attempted to remove a 150-year-old tree.

Mobile Crane Smashes Home Santa Rosa California 2009 (2)“The whole crane and truck started to go over,” said Alisa Dales, a neighbor who was standing nearby when it toppled. “It was like slow motion, and then it went ‘boom.’ It was the loudest noise I’ve ever heard.”

No one was in the house or injured when the accident occurred Monday at about 2:30 p.m. A dog in the garage also was unharmed, according to the Santa Rosa Fire Department.

Kyle Dales was in the front yard cutting firewood from removed sections of the tree when the crane began to topple.

“I just started running with the chain saw and screaming at my girlfriend and sister,” he said. “The shaft of the crane ended up in the living room.”

Kevin and Michelle McCarthy stood in quiet shock as they looked at their destroyed home. Tears rolled down her face. A neighbor offered Kevin McCarthy a beer, which he declined.

Mobile Crane Smashes Home Santa Rosa California 2009 (3)“I think we’re just in shock right now,” said Kevin McCarthy, who arrived home about an hour after the accident.

Efforts got underway early Tuesday to ready for the removal of a toppled crane that smashed through the top of a northwest Santa Rosa home Monday afternoon.City, state and crane company officials were gathering to plan and oversee the effort, which was expected to take much of the day Tuesday. Another crane came in from Petaluma Tuesday morning to the Molly Court home. The plan was to use that crane to raise the fallen boom and right the upended crane.It is the third crane on the job.

The problem began Monday when a crane weighing more than 100,000 pounds toppled backward and sliced a Santa Rosa home nearly in half as workers attempted to remove a 150-year-old tree.”The whole crane and truck started to go over,” said Alisa Dales, a neighbor who was standing nearby when it toppled. “It was like slow motion, and then it went ‘boom.’ It was the loudest noise I’ve ever heard.” No one was in the house or injured when the accident occurred Monday at about 2:30 p.m.

Mobile Crane Smashes Home Santa Rosa California 2009 (4)A dog in the garage also was unharmed, according to the Santa Rosa Fire Department.

Kyle Dales was in the front yard cutting firewood from removed sections of the tree when the crane began to topple. “I just started running with the chain saw and screaming at my girlfriend and sister,” he said. “The shaft of the crane ended up in the living room.”Kevin and Michelle McCarthy stood in quiet shock as they looked at their destroyed home. Tears rolled down her face. A neighbor offered Kevin McCarthy a beer, which he declined. “I think we’re just in shock right now,” said Kevin McCarthy, who arrived home about an hour after the accident.

Earlier in the day, Michelle McCarthy had been in a car accident. The couple were in Marin County dealing with that crash when one of their neighbors called to tell them that their house had been destroyed.

“I kept telling my husband, ‘Tell me I’m having a really bad, vivid dream,” Michelle McCarthy said. The couple moved into the house in August, and an arborist had strongly recommended they have the aging and sick tree removed for safety, Kevin McCarthy said.Workers arrived early Monday morning to start removing the tree that was alive before the Civil War, and were nearly done when the accident occurred. “It was a freak situation,” said Rich Kingsborough, owner of Atlas Tree Surgery in Santa Rosa.

Kingsborough was working with the Petaluma-based crane company, Reliable Crane & Rigging, and had nearly finished the task when the destruction occurred.A large section of the tree, which had been connected to the crane, suddenly broke loose from the base of the oak and yanked down hard on the rig. One of the workers was on the tree, cutting the large section loose when it snapped off, catching and yanking down the crane.“It shockloaded the crane,” Kingsborough said. “The boom came crashing down and missed everybody.”

The 131-foot-long boom missed the man in the tree by about four feet, he said.A worker operating the crane in the rig’s cab had to be helped down with a ladder. “The house is uninhabitable,” said Santa Rosa Fire Battalion Chief Andy Pforsich. “The boom cut right through it.”

With the cab of the crane sticking 50 feet in the air, the fire department decided to evacuate both homes to the left and right of the McCarthy house. The Red Cross was helping the McCarthys and their neighbors find temporary housing Monday night.One of those neighbors, Josie Lee, was on her back porch when the crane fell backward.“I just said, ‘Oh, my god,’” Lee said. “It sliced right through the house.”

A second crane company had been called in to help remove the toppled crane with expectations the work would be completed Monday night. A Cal-OSHA investigator arrived at the scene, and was working with city officials, firefighters and crane operators to determine the safest way to right the crane.In the wake of the accident, dozens of neighbors milled about, standing next to firefighters and insurance inspectors, and everybody seemed to utter the same thing.“I’m just glad no one got hurt,” Kyle Dales said.

Category: Accident Report

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