The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy are following a deadly crane accident that occurred today in Newark, New Jersey.
The Newark Fire Department, the U.S. Coast Guard and other emergency response agencies continue efforts to pull a massive excavating crane out of Newark Bay after it toppled into the water this morning. Responders at the harrowing scene did not know for sure if the crane operator was on board and could not say if it was a rescue or recovery operation, according to Newark Fire Department spokesman John Brown.
At least one witness is saying that the operator was inside the cab and was trapped when the crane splashed into the water.
“I was the first one in the water, but there was nothing I could do,” Mike Rios told the New Jersey Star-Ledger about an hour after the accident. “There’s no way he could be alive.” Mr. Rios reports that several people tried to get the trapped operator out, but were unable to do so. The operator’s name has not been released and the emergency response agencies continue their rescue and/or recovery operations at the scene.
The horrifying accident occurred just after 9:00a.m., as the massive crane was excavating along the water in a remote area at the end of Delancey Street, just north of the New Jersey Turnpike Extension bridge and south of a waterfront tank farm and the Passaic Valley Sewerage Authority plant. The crane “flipped over and started sliding in the mud in the water,” said Newark Fire Department spokesman Mr. Brown.
Mr. Rios, who was operating a similar crane, reported that when he saw the other crane begin to move forward on the muddy ground along the waterfront he thought the operator was positioning the crane voluntarily. However, it soon became apparent that the crane was sliding in the mud out of the operator’s control. Seconds later, the crane was overturned and its operator was trapped in the cabin under the water. “He tried to back up, but he just teeter-tottered into the water,” Mr. Rios said, explaining that the wet sloppy mud must have given way under the weight of the machine. The operator, whom Mr. Rios said was considered one of the best on the job, has not been identified by authorities and Mr. Rios has declined to disclose his name out of respect for the family.
Both cranes were being used as part of construction/excavation work being done on a flood-control project in the area, which was inundated by the surge from Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Rios and the other operator worked for Global Development Contracting, a construction management firm located in Belleville, New Jersey.
Although recovery operations remain ongoing, an investigation has begun. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for one, is investigating the accident, according to Joanna Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor’s office in Philadelphia. No details on the investigation are yet available. But Ms. Hawkins has confirmed that Global Development had two OSHA violations in 2012. One of the violations involved providing protection during excavations, including potential ‘cave-ins.’
Crane accidents are far too common, despite federal, state and local regulations pertaining to work and equipment at construction sites.
Block O’Toole & Murphy fights to protect the rights of those injured, or tragically killed, in crane and construction accidents. We are committed to helping injured construction workers and their families during a very difficult time. The construction accident attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy, LLP have recovered more than $750,000,000 in verdicts and settlements for their injured clients. They are available for a free consultation – at (212) 736-5300. You can also learn more about the firm by visiting the firm’s website at www.blockotoole.com.