Human error was to blame for Seattle crane collapse, experts say

Human error was ‘most likely’ to blame for Seattle crane collapse: Workers ‘removed pins too early’ while disassembling machine, experts say after reviewing footage of tragedy that killed four people

  • Crane accident investigator Tom Barth said ‘workers didn’t follow instructions’ 
  • Claimed they removed safety bolts holding two sections together at wrong time
  • Two workers disassembling crane and two civilians killed in Saturday’s tragedy

Human error is to blame for the collapse of a Seattle crane that killed four people on Saturday, it has been claimed.

Experts who’ve reviewed video of the collapse say workers removed pins holding sections of the crane together too soon while disassembling the machine. 

South Carolina crane accident investigator Tom Barth told USA Today: ‘The reason this tower fell over is ironworkers and the people working on it did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions for disassembling the crane. If the pins had been in, that crane would not have fallen over.’


Horrifying dashcam video captured the moment the crane came crashing down as cars were driving directly below in Seattle on Saturday afternoon

The crane, which was on top of an under-construction Google building, crashed onto a busy downtown street shortly before 3.30pm and crushed six cars below.

The accident killed two experienced ironworkers who were disassembling the crane, according to their unions. 

They were revealed as young father Andrew Yoder, 31, and his colleague Travis Corbet, 33, from Portland who was recently married.  

Retired city employee Alan Justad, 71, and Seattle Pacific University freshman Sarah Wong, 19, died when the crane crushed them in their cars.


Seattle Pacific University student Sarah Wong was one of four people who were tragically killed when a construction crane fell from a building and crashed onto the busy street


Two of victims killed in the accident were experienced ironworkers who were disassembling the crane. One of those men, Andrew Yoder, was a 31-year-old from Seattle who was described as a young father

Wong had been riding in a car with another student when the crane fell. The other student was unharmed but is ‘deeply shaken by the accident and the loss of Sarah’, according to the school. 

Wong, who was from South Pasadena, California, intended to major in nursing and had lived on campus.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the collapse and say it’s too early to say. 

The crane at the South Lake Union project collapsed on Mercer Street near Interstate 5 shortly before 3.30pm on Saturday 

But Mr Barth, who has been a crane operator and inspector for 38 years, said workers did not safely disassemble the tower crane by sections.  

He said crews shouldn’t have taken out the bolts holding together two sections before ‘securing line from another crane to the top of the section getting removed’. 

Videos show sections of the crane separating cleanly, suggesting crews likely removed pins early, said Dave Kwass, a trial attorney who handles crane accident lawsuits. 

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