Bellevue accident highlights need for safer cranes


SEATTLE – Thursday’s fatal crane accident in Bellevue is focusing a lot of attention on the industry, which has done a pretty good job in the area of safety. But went terribly and tragically wrong after the operator told firefighters he heard a cracking noise at the base of the crane.

When it happens, it’s pretty catastrophic.

Seattle Attorney Bill Marler represented a worker killed in the collapse of a crane inside the Kingdome in 1994.He says that accident was blamed on operator error.

“To the extent you can figure out what happened, hopefully, one of these things won’t happen again,” he said.

The victim was identified today as Matt Ammon, 31, a Microsoft employee for five months. The King County Medical Examiner’s Office said Ammon died of rib and pelvis injuries and other fractures.  Ammon lived in a fourth-floor apartment in the 248-unit Pinnacle BellCentre.

UPDATE from Seattle-PI this morning:

Operator in crane wreck has history of drug abuse
No other victims found; state orders inspections of similar equipment

A decade ago, William Marler, a Seattle Attorney, sued Ness Cranes in relation to the Kingdome crane accident of 1994, which killed two men. The general contractor on that project, Pacific Components, was also sued.  His criminal background will be relevant only if operator error is at least partially responsible for the collapse, or if he did not perform an inspection properly, said Marler, the lawyer.

“You have to have some causal link between one and the other,” he said.

“The reality is that there is no public entity in inspecting cranes,” said Seattle lawyer Bill Marler. “It’s really the companies inspecting themselves.”


# The state does not require drug tests before crane operators are hired.

# The state did no safety inspections at the site of Thursday’s accident.

# Cranes must be inspected before each use, but it is usually done by the operator.

# A statewide crane-safety organization created after the deadly 1994 Kingdome crane accident is no longer active.

I found an interesting website on prior crane-related accidents –