A construction crane collapsed onto a downtown Dallas apartment complex Sunday afternoon, killing a 29-year-old woman and injuring five others.

Authorities investigating the deadly crane collapse say they haven’t determined why the crane fell onto the Elan City Lights apartment building but said high wind gusts associated with a series of severe thunderstorms moving through the area could have played a role.

One witness said the crane sliced through the building from the fifth floor to the third floor, smashing several apartment units and part of the complex’s parking garage, according to CBS News.

According to The Dallas Morning News, Ms. Smith was found in the building’s heavily damaged east side. She was taken to a local hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

Five other people were injured in the crane collapse, including two critically and two seriously. One other person suffered minor injuries and was released.

Toni Reeves, an executive director of real estate services for the owner of the building, Greystar Worldwide, told The Dallas Morning News that all the residents and pets had been evacuated from the 468-unit building.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was one of the agencies that was at the scene of the accident Sunday to start an investigation.

A representative of California-based Bigge Crane and Rigging Company, the crane’s operator, said the company is “mobilizing personnel to the site to find out more and, of course, to fully cooperate with investigating authorities,” according to The Dallas Morning News. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those directly impacted by this incident, their families and loved ones, and with those who suffered property damage,” the representative added.

Crane collapses are not uncommon, but Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans told The Dallas Morning News that Sunday’s accident was the first one he could recall that resulted in a crane collapsing onto an inhabited building.

Most of the crane collapses that Dallas Fire-Rescue has responded to have involved a crane collapsing onto itself or onto a building that’s vacant or under construction, Mr. Evans said.

According to a November 2009 report by the Center for Construction Training and Research, crane-related accidents killed 632 people between 1992 and 2006. The main cause of death in crane accidents was electrocution, accounting for a quarter of all deaths. Other causes of crane-related deaths are being struck by a crane load, struck by a crane or parts of a crane, and crane collapses.

Crane accidents usually result in the deaths of the crane operator and other construction workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 44 workers are killed each year in crane accidents.

On April 27, 2019, a crane collapse in downtown Seattle killed four people — two ironworkers at a construction site and a college student and a former city administrator who were in their vehicles on a street below the crane.

Investigations of the Seattle crane collapse are still underway, but some experts say that human error is likely to blame for the accident.

“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,” South Carolina crane accident investigator Tom Barth told USA Today. “If the pins had been in, that crane would not have fallen over.”

Additional sources:
Understanding Crane Accident Failures: A report on the causes of death in crane-related accidents
CNN: At least 1 person is dead and 6 others injured after crane falls on Dallas apartment building

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