Large crane topples over in NJ, injuring one worker

February 7, 2013 3:35:32 PM PST
Emergency crews converged on a Haddonfield, N.J. neighborhood Thursday after a large crane toppled over, injuring a worker.

Chopper 6 HD had a clear view of the calamity on the 500 block of Woodland Avenue.

It happened around 11:20 a.m. Thursday.

A tree pruner was trapped on the rooftop, badly injured, clinging to the chimney after a huge section of the mammoth Ash tree he was trying to guide hit him in the leg.

As it went out of control, the weight of the massive section toppled the crane down below, pulling it off the ground and suspending it on its side.

"I heard a loud boom. So I opened the door and I saw the truck. And my first thought was, 'It's not supposed to be like that, is it?'" said resident Joanne McDonald.

Firefighters arrived quickly, literally crawling across the roofline to get to the injured man.

A ladder truck lifted a gurney into place, and the worker was helped aboard for the ride down to safety.

The crane operator was uninjured, but trapped inside the cab. Because some fallen power lines were still hot, he sat there suspended for a time.

"The stump section they had cut was actually too heavy for the crane, and the crane actually toppled over. And when it toppled over, we ended up with one victim on top of the building who had to be removed. And he has what appears to be a fractured leg," said Haddonfield Fire Chief Joe Riggs.

A spokesman for the crane company hired to work with the tree cutter told me by phone that the workers underestimated the weight of the tree section.

I spoke directly with the owner of the house. She says the house itself was damaged, to what extent is still to be assessed. Her family of four was long gone to school and to work when the accident happened.

Workers and crane experts were still working late Thursday afternoon, carefully preparing to right the toppled crane.

No one here wanted any more mistakes that would compound this already-bad situation.