City Council committee acknowledges crane crash, mulls city-level regulation

SEATTLE – A Seattle City Council committee discussed Saturday’s deadly crane accident at city hall on Wednesday.

The crash has spurred at least one councilmember question of whether the city needs to provide more oversight of tower cranes.

City staff and council members took time during a regular committee meeting to recognize the tragic loss of four people when a construction crane collapsed onto Mercer Street Saturday.

“I just wanted to take a moment to the incident over the weekend to send our condolences to all those impacted,” said Abel Pacheco.

The impact has been deep at city hall as one of the fatal victims was a retired long-time city employee, Alan Justad, who died while in a car when the crane crashed onto Mercer Street.

“He worked for the city for 31 years is survived by 3 daughters,” said Nathan Torgelson.

Also killed during while in a car during the crash was Sarah Wong, a student at SPU.

Travis Corbet and Andrew Yoder both were iron workers who also died while on the crane when it fell.

State inspectors from the department of labor and industries are busy investigating five construction companies which were tasked with safely removing the tower crane when it fell – but city inspectors have also visited the crash site.

“I have been out to the site, one of our senior building inspectors has been out there, one of our lead structural engineers has been out to the site,” said Torgelson. “We will begin working very carefully with the engineer of record and building owner, developer and the contractor on the path forward.”

Plus, even though a final report has yet to determine an exact cause, the tragedy sparked at least one city council member to ask if the city should also regulate tower cranes.

“We could have our own regulation that would require that a technician, a company worker that’s taking apart the crane,” said Lisa Herbold. “There has been speculation that the pins were pulled going up instead of the end in order to save time.”

But the concept or legality of any new city-level oversight of tower cranes was shelved until state regulators determine an official cause – that could take up to six months.

“We should find out exactly what happened before trying to make any sort of regulatory correction here,” added Herbold.