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UPDATE: Sarah Wong Killed In Crane Collapse Accident At Google’s Seattle Campus

Apr 30, 2019

Sarah Wong Seattle: 19-Year-Old College Student Sarah Wong Tragically Died In Crane Collapse Accident At Google’s Seattle Campus On Mercer Street

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON (April 29, 2019) –  A 19-year-old freshman from Seattle Pacific University identified as Sarah Wong died when a crane collapsed on top of her Uber at Google’s Seattle Campus.

Sarah Wong was one of the 4 people who died after the crane smashed her car on Mercer Street after falling from a building.  Experts are saying that the crane likely collapsed due to human error. 

According to South Carolina crane accident investigator Tom Barth, “The reason this tower fell over is iron workers and the people working on it did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions for disassembling the crane.” Bath concludes that if the proper pins had been in the crane it would not have fallen. 

Washington investigators are saying that a total of five companies were involved in the construction including general contractor GLY, Northwest Tower Crane Service Inc., Omega Rigging and Machinery Moving Inc. and Morrow Equipment Co. LLC and Seaburg Construction Corp.

Sarah Wong’s parents Henry Wong and Andrea Wong  immediately traveled to Seattle after learning about the accident. “We are up here in Seattle and have met many of Sarah’s friends who recounted her joy and outgoing personality. Many are affected by Sarah’s absence,” they wrote to the Kiwanis Club. 

A full investigation into the cause of the crane collapse accident on Mercer Street remains ongoing at this time. 

Causes of Crane Accidents

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “There were 72 crane-related fatal occupational injuries [in 2006]. This was a decrease from an average of 78 fatalities per year from 2003 to 2005.” There is often very little to no warning when a crane collapses. It can catch victims completely off-guard. Generally speaking, there are four major reasons that crane collapses take place:

  • Power Lines: As odd as it may sound, the majority of crane accidents are due to contact with power lines. If a crane boom hits a power line, it can electrocute the crane operator and any worker nearby. 
  • Crane Assembly/Disassembly: Crane assembly and disassembly must be done according to the manufacturers specifications. This seems like an obvious point but many people die every year when construction workers fail to properly disassemble cranes. 
  • Crane Boom Collapses: Extending a crane beyond a manufacturer’s specifications   can lead to collapse. Too much extension on a crane can put undo stress on its weak points and hydraulic system. This can lead to buckling which is often a precursor of collapse. 
  • Exceeding Weight Limits: Cranes operate by a system of weights and counterweights. Loading too much weight on a crane can cause the boom to buckle or tip over all together. 

Crane’s can weigh tens of thousands of pounds. Any person that is hit by a falling crane is likely to be seriously injured or killed. Construction companies are supposed to do everything in their power to prevent accidents. But far too often this does not happen. Human error at some level is nearly always to blame for a crane collapse. Depending on the facts of any case, there may be numerous sources of potential liability following a crane collapse. 

Liability In Crane Collapse Accidents

Every construction company has a legal obligation to take measures in order to prevent accidents.  For example, OSHA has set forth a number of guidelines with respect to safely operating a crane: Here are just a few of them:

  • Shift inspections for all equipment;
  • Monthly inspections for all equipment;
  • Annual inspections for all equipment;
  • Shift, monthly, and annual inspections for all wire rope;
  • Post-assembly inspections upon completion of assembly;
  • Pre-erection inspections of tower cranes;
  • Inspections of modified or repaired/adjusted equipment;
  • Four-year inspections of the internal vessel/flotation device for floating cranes/derricks.

Evaluations of crane operators are also extremely important. According to OSHA, “Under the final rule, employers are required to train operators as needed to perform assigned crane activities, evaluate them, and document successful completion of the evaluations. Employers who have evaluated operators prior to December 9, 2018, will not have to conduct those evaluations again, but will only have to document when those evaluations were completed.”

Construction companies and general contractors that do not take steps to prevent crane accidents may face civil liability in the event that any person is injured or killed. The family of a victim that died is able to hold negligent construction companies responsible through a wrongful death action. A wrongful death attorney can evaluate all of the facts of your case and get to the bottom of what happened.  

Investigating A Crane Collapse Accident

We at West Coast Trial Lawyers extend our deepest condolences to the family of Sarah Wong and all of those who have been affected by this tragedy. There are reports coming out that human error was likely to blame for what happened. It is our sincere hope that anyone with knowledge about what happened will come forward and speak with investigators. There needs to be some accountability or a similar accident could very well take place in the future.  

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