Carl Amundson
Crane mast fell across excavation.

A 220-foot crane collapsed at an office building site in downtown Bellevue, Wash., Thursday night, killing a resident in a nearby apartment building and severely damaging three surrounding structures. The crane operator was not severely injured and no other injuries were reported, but the crane’s mast was strewn across a major arterial and the condition of surrounding buildings was not yet clear.

General contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis, Seattle, was part way through with work on the 300,000-sq.-ft. garage and the crane had been mounted on a base within the garage’s footprint. “We are assessing the safety of the situation and taking steps to support the crane mast to see if it can be moved,” said Bill Lewis, president of LCL “We are cooperating fully with the owners of the surrounding properties and contractors to get work done on those buildings as quickly as possible.”

Carl Amundson
Building in Bellevue where fatality is believed to have occurred.

The cause is still under investigation by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. No damage estimates on the three surrounding buildings was available, but they have been “red-tagged” and evacuated until their structural safety can be assessed. The crane still blocks a major Bellevue artery and about 100 people have been evacuated from their homes.

Little additional information was immediately available. The heart of the project is a 400,000-sq.-ft. office building owned by Hines Interests, Houston. The crane operator is employed by Ness Crane Services Inc., Seattle, which more than a decade earlier had been involved in another prominent crane accident in Seattle in which two workers died during repairs at the Seattle Kingdome. Under a settlement agreement reached in Aug., 1995, Ness and other companies agreed to pay safety penalties to be used to fund a crane safety association, according to the Dept. of Labor and Industries.