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3 Tragic Crane Collapses

Skyscrapers and other big buildings are modern marvels that push the boundaries of engineering capabilities. Plenty of construction projects are executed without major accidents, but all it takes is one mistake around a giant crane to cause the tragic loss of human life. Some of these tragic crane collapses have taken place right here in California.

Exxon Mobile refinery crane collapse in Torrance, CA

One of the more recent crane collapses to take place in California was the accident involving a 300-ton crane at the Exxon Mobile refinery in Torrance. In June 2016, the crane was put to work one morning relocating debris. Shortly after 9:30 a.m., it inexplicably collapsed, and workers rushed to douse the debris with water to prevent the release of flammable vapors. It’s unusual for such a massive crane to cause no deaths or major injuries when it collapses, but that was fortunately the case with this incident. Just three workers sustained minor injuries. The collapse was later discovered to be caused by an unspecified human error.

Federal Home Loan Bank crane collapse in San Francisco, CA

A crane collapse that occurred in San Francisco in 1989 was far more disastrous. The 350-foot behemoth was being used to construct the Federal Home Loan Bank at Kearny and California Streets. At the time of the collapse, the crane was being repositioned—a hazardous process that requires the machinery to be perfectly balanced.

During this deadly construction accident, the boom swung out of control over the intersection, slammed into the 24-story building it was constructing, and then slammed into two other office buildings before it fell onto the intersection. A construction worker was inside the operator’s booth when the lower portion of the crane, including the booth, toppled 16 stories down and fell onto a school bus and a commuter bus. The counterweight then crashed through the pavement, creating a crater and damaging cars in an underground parking lot.

At least five people were killed, including the school bus driver, three construction workers, and a pedestrian, and multiple people sustained injuries.

Houston, TX oil refinery crane collapse

As of 2008, crane owners and operators in Texas could use the machinery without any state or local oversight. Subject only to federal regulations, it’s perhaps not surprising that the state had the dubious distinction of having the most crane-related fatalities during the early 2000s. In July 2008, one of the largest mobile cranes in the country collapsed at an oil refinery in Houston. This construction accident killed at least four workers and injured seven others.

Take action after a construction accident in Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles construction accident lawyers at Ellis Law have been fighting for the rights of injured workers and pedestrians for more than two decades. We understand the inherent dangers of the construction field, and we believe that victims of crane collapses and other construction-related accidents deserve maximum compensation. To find out if you could have grounds for a lawsuit, you can call our office at 1-800-INJURED for your free case review.

Additional resources about construction injuries

  1. The New York Times, At Least 5 People Are Killed as Crane Topples in Downtown San Francisco, http://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/29/us/at-least-5-people-are-killed-as-crane-topples-in-downtown-san-francisco.html
  2. Los Angeles Times, 3 workers injured after 300-ton crane collapses at Exxon Mobil’s Torrance refinery, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-torrance-refinery-crane-collapse-20160620-snap-story.html
  3. CBS News, Crane Collapse Kills 4 At Houston Refinery, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/crane-collapse-kills-4-at-houston-refinery/