One person dead in Philly lift accident

CENTER CITY - October 12, 2009 RELATED SLIDESHOW: Pictures from Chopper 6 HD

Exactly who was killed is not clear at this time.

On Monday afternoon, a man operating a construction lift to work on a church roof drove over a sidewalk grate, slowly toppling the crane-like machine and sending him 125 feet to the ground. The man was completing maintenance work to the church roof when the lift rode over a grate that slowly gave way, witnesses said. The lift slowly started to fall, grazing the top corner of a residential building, then knocking down a traffic light and light pole.

"It took forever for him to fall over," said Robert Lee, a construction worker on a nearby project. "He didn't scream. He was just trying to work the controls."

Lisa Callahan was in a neighboring building and said, the crash "sounded like an earthquake."

"It was like a boom and then it sounded like a lot of things just dropping and breaking. And then we heard a woman screaming," said Gayle Sproul, an attorney whose office is across the street.

A car parked on the street was hit by debris, breaking the windshield. Sproul said two people were in the car but she didn't know whether they were injured.

"It's really lucky that it's Columbus Day because the traffic is really limited," she said. "The angle of the way it came down it would have just flattened anything on the sidewalk."

Sproul said she noticed the lift, with its arm extended, when she came to work. Two workers on the platform appeared to be cleaning the parapets on a church.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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