Good Samaritans work to rescue people in deadly Seattle crane collapse

SEATTLE -- People who witnessed a terrifying crane collapse said they felt shock and disbelief before jumping into action.

Witnesses called 911 and did anything they could to help victims of a deadly crane collapse Saturday afternoon on Mercer Street near Fairview Avenue. Four people died and three were injured when a construction crane on the new Google Seattle campus collapsed, pinning six cars underneath.

"There were people crawling through the backs of windows trying to pull victims out of their cars," said witness Britt Wibmer. "There were people who grabbed pieces of metal -- I don't know where the metal came from -- prying doors open. One man was with his bare hands trying to pull off a door."

Two of those heroes were Bruce Cashmere and his 19-year-old son, Deyan, both Australians who have been in Seattle for the past six weeks. Deyan is battling cancer and is in Seattle for treatment.

Bruce said the minute he saw the crane fall, he knew it would be a disaster.

"I just had a funny feeling it was going to fall," Deyan said.

Bruce and Deyan raced over to help the injured, knowing they were walking into carnage.

"A young baby only a few months old, I said there was a baby, and I didn't know what car," Bruce recalled. 

One female and three males were dead by the time firefighters got to the scene, Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said. Two of the dead were ironworkers, not crane operators, as had been previously stated, and the two others were people who had been in cars, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Saturday night.

A 25-year-old mother and her 4-month-old daughter were in a car that was smashed by the crane, but both managed to escape with only minor injuries, Durkan said. They and a 28-year-old man were taken to Harborview Medical Center, Seattle Fire spokesman Lance Garland said. A fourth person also was injured and treated at the scene.

Harborview spokeswoman Susan Gregg said Saturday night that the mother and baby had been discharged, while the man injured was in satisfactory condition.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office said it would not release names of people who died until Monday.

"It's a horrible day in Seattle when something like this happens. But it's a time when we come together because Seattle is a city that rallies around each other," Durkan said.

The crane collapsed near the intersection of Mercer Street and Fairview Avenue near Interstate 5 shortly before 3:30 p.m., Scoggins said.

With Amazon and other tech companies increasing their hiring in Seattle, the city has dozens of construction cranes building office towers and apartment buildings. As of January, there were about 60 construction cranes in Seattle, more than any other American city.

Officials do not yet know the cause of the collapse. Police and the state Department of Labor and Industries were investigating the incident, which Durkan said could take months.