A construction worker was killed and three people inside vehicles were injured on April 4 when a section of tower crane at a downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fla., construction site plummeted several hundred feet to an active street below.

According to Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, the event occurred at about 4:30 PM during a crane stepping operation at a residential tower being constructed by West Palm Beach, Fla.-based KAST Construction. Witnesses say the crane section struck an automobile crossing the Southeast Third Avenue bridge over the New River, then bounced on the structure and came to rest on a second vehicle.

The worker, identified by Fort Lauderdale Police as 27-year-old Jorge De La Torre, fell with the platform load off of the side of the building and died from his injuries, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Chief Stephen Gollan told reporters. Two of the three injured victims, all of whom were occupants of the vehicles, were taken to a nearby hospital. The third suffered only minor injuries and refused further treatment. Gollan said the incident may have resulted from an equipment platform failure, rather than a failure of the crane itself as it was being extended by another tower segment.

The impact created a small hole in the drawbridge, which was closed for several hours and repaired. Following a structural inspection by the Florida Dept. of Transportation, the bridge was reopened later that evening.

The project, called Gables Riverwalk, is a 43-story, 493-ft-tall tower designed for nearly 300 senior living units. The $151-million project also includes a seven-story podium, restaurant/retail space and parking. The tower crane supporting construction was to be 710 ft tall, according to an application filed with the Federal Aviation Administration prior to the start of construction in October 2021. 

Activity at the site has been shut down pending a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation, which will include Kast Construction, Phoenix Rigging & Erecting of Atlanta, Ga., and Maxim Crane Works, based in Jessup, Md.

None of the companies has commented on the incident. Fort Lauderdale Police is conducting a separate investigation of the worker’s death.