Dena Parsons wants to know why something suddenly hit her husband in the head, killing him and injuring a co-worker at a construction site in Oklahoma City on Aug. 31.

Family Mourns as Oklahoma Fatality Remains a Mystery
Photo: Dena Parsons
Mike Parsons liked fishing, shopping and watching movies with his family. He was 42.

“Somebody was at fault,” says Parsons, 36, of El Reno, Okla. “Stuff doesn’t just fall off a crane.” While working on a crane’s jib at about 8:30 p.m., an unknown object struck Michael Glenn “Mike” Parsons, 42, a certified crane operator at Rent-A-Crane, Oklahoma City. The co-worker, also an employee of the rental company, was not identified.

The workers were repositioning the crane, which was being used to lift roof shingles at Chesapeake Energy Corp., the gas company’s spokesman says. Its four- and five-story buildings were damaged in a hailstorm over the summer.

Rent-A-Crane declined to comment on the accident, pending a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration review. In 2007, it paid OSHA $6,750 for five “serious” violations, records show. A sister company, K&R Builders Inc., paid for four violations late last year, two in 2006 and two in 2003. Crane assembly/disassembly is one of the leading causes of crane-related fatalities, according to a recent study commissioned by OSHA, which plans to begin enforcing a new set of federal crane-safety rules on Nov. 8.

Parsons was to turn 43 on Sept. 9. He started working at age 18 as a millwright, eventually becoming a certified crane operator. “He loved it,” says Dena, his wife of six years. Parsons also leaves behind two stepdaughters, Sage, 10, and Madison, 18. Dena adds, “I don’t care about the crane; I don’t care about the company. I just miss the man that came home.”