Crane collapses street underneath it

June 4, 2008 8:53:27 PM PDT
There was another crane accident in New York City Wednesday. This time, it happened in Brooklyn.The heavy crane was being moved when the ground gave way. The street caved in- under the weight of the crane, leaving a huge sinkhole behind.

Eyewitness News reporter Nina Pineda has the story.

Residents say when they look at the street, they see pot holes and can tell the street is less than a foot thick. Why then, they wonder, did someone think it was OK to leave the crane there for weeks, especially a crane loaded down with heavy steel plates?

The crane had just been lowered on to its wheels by the four outriggers bearing its weight. But when the heavy structure settled onto the 12 tires that support it, the street underneath it began collapsing. The crane sunk a foot under the surface of Ocean Avenue.

"What we're worried about is...the crane will sink further into the ground, and it will crush the gas pipes, and then we'll have a gas leak," FDNY Deputy Chief Wayne Cartwright said. "We're preparing for the worst, hoping for the best."

Timing was everything as emergency response teams worked in tandem to slide steel plates under the crane while gingerly lifting the crane. Con Edison crews stood by to in case the weight of the plates and the crain crushed the gas pipes underneath.

It all happened to the amazement of residents who say they've been wary of the crane for months.

"It'd be a shame if we had an accident similar to the one that happened the other day in Manhattan," resident Eustace Greaves said. "If that thing should tip...the building here is gone. It would slice through it like a hot knife through butter."

Luckily the crane was lowered when it crushed through the pavement. Preliminary investigation found the crane to be overweight.

"We're being told and we believe that the crane was overloaded, which caused it to sink into the ground," Cartwright said.

"We have a lot of development going on in this city, and is anybody looking at the numbers, is anybody looking at the soil?" Greaves said. "Did anybody do soil tests to see whether or not this street can hold that kind of weight?"

Cartwright said there was such a tremendous response, with multiple agencies responding. At this point, it is unclear if the accident was foreseeable or preventable.