Crane Accident in Miami Kills 2, Hurts 5

MIAMI (AP) -- Part of a construction crane plummeted 30 floors at the site of a high-rise condominium Tuesday, smashing into a home that the contractor used for storage and killing two workers, police said.

Five workers were injured, including one in critical condition, officials said. The other four had injuries not considered life-threatening.

One of those killed died inside the house, and the other died at a hospital, police spokesman Delrish Moss said.

The crane's main vertical section was intact, but the part that fell was a 20-foot section that workers had been raising to extend the equipment's reach, Miami fire spokesman Ignatius Carroll said. It fell 30 floors and smashed through the home's Spanish-tiled roof.

Authorities were checking employee logs to make sure no workers were missing. But an initial survey by rescue workers and dogs found no evidence of victims trapped at the site of the 40-plus-story luxury condo tower on Biscayne Bay, Moss said.

Fire officials said rescue efforts were hampered because the crane remained unstable.

David Martinez, 31, a pipe fitter, was on the fourth floor of the condo tower eating lunch when the crash occurred.

"It was like a small earthquake," he said. "We looked outside, and we couldn't even see." It took several minutes for the dust to clear, Martinez said.

The two-story house that was damaged was used in the movie "There's Something About Mary," Carroll said.

Mary Costello, a senior vice president for Bovis Lend Lease Holdings Inc., which was managing the construction, said the accident occurred when a subcontractor tried to raise the crane section and it came loose. The company is cooperating with investigators, she said.

"Our hearts are heavy at this moment for the two deceased individuals, including one of our own employees and the additional injured workers," she said in a statement.

The subcontractor and the tower developer, Royal Palms Communities, did not return phone messages seeking comment.

The U.S. Office of Safety and Health Administration had two investigators at the site. Darlene Fossum, an area director for the agency, said Bovis Lend Lease had partnered with OSHA in the past and was considered a company that went "above and beyond" in terms of safety and health.

"We have worked closely with them on their safety programs and feel very confident that this was one of the premier contractors on this job site," she said.

Tower cranes and crane operators are not licensed or regulated by the state of Florida, but bills moving through both houses of the Legislature would change that.

The accident came 10 days after a 20-story crane collapsed at a New York construction site, killing seven people.

New York City officials said Tuesday they have told contractors they can't raise or lower large cranes at construction sites unless a buildings inspector is there.

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