High Winds, Negligence Contribute to Crane Collapse
On July 14, 1999 at approximately 5:12 pm, three iron
workers were killed when a Lampson "Big Blue" crane collapsed while
attempting to position a 400-ton right field roof panel into place.
The workmen, Jeffrey Wischer, William Degrave, and Jerome
Starr were observing and directing the pick from a hoist bucket when the
accident occurred. Resulting damage to the stadium was estimated at $100
million. The widows of construction workers killed in the crane accident were
awarded $99 million in damages.
Before July 14, Big Blue had already successfully lifted and
put in place nine 400-ton roof sections, but those lifts had been conducted in
calm weather. On July 14, wind gusts up
to 26 mph had been recorded and many ironworkers argued that the conditions
were too dangerous to make a pick that day.
However, it was decided that work would proceed as planned.
In the litigation
that followed, it was determined that wind and contractor negligence contributed to the cause of the crane's
Big Blue, a Lampson TransiLift III with a 340 ft main boom and a 200 ft jib, on-site at Miller Park.
Ironworkers Memorial at Miller Park located near homeplate entrance.
Forensic structural engineers determined that excessive winds and contractor negligence contributed to the accident.