In order to view all images, please register and log in. This will also allow you to comment on our stories and have the option to receive our email alerts. Click here to register

Tower crane collapses in Seattle

A tower crane collapsed last night in downtown Bellevue, Seattle, Washington, killing a 31 year old man in an apartment building struck by the tip of the falling cranes jib.

The crane, a Liebherr EC-H top Slewer, was working on 333 Bellevue Tower, a 20 storey office block development, on 108th Avenue Northeast near Northeast 4th Street,
Please register to see all images

The fallen crane

The crane operator, Warren Taylor Yeakey, 34, of Tacoma, remained in his cab, riding the crane 60 metres to its resting point cantilevering over a side street. He was rescued by the fire department with a ladder.

The cab had come to rest on an adjacent building, around six to eight metres above the ground.
Please register to see all images

This clearly shows how lucky the operator was, with the cab coming to rest above the ground

Yeakey told the fire department that he was getting ready to shut down for the night, when he heard a crack and the crane went down, striking three buildings with the tower and one with its jib which then blocked 108th Avenue Northeast.

The accident, which occurred just before 8 pm, severely damaged the top floor appartment at the Pinnacle Bell Centre Apartments, killing the occupant. While the corner of the Plaza 305 building, immediately adjacent to the crane was virtually demolished. The Civica Office Commons building was also damaged along with the Melting Pot restaurant by the cranes machinery deck and counterweight.
Please register to see all images

An aerial view shows the core and point of failure

Please register to see all images

Stepping back shows the extent of the damage

Bellevue Fire Chief Mario Trevino said the accident is being blamed on "a catastrophic failure" of the crane.

Reports from the scene and news footage suggest that the 60 metre free standing crane, failed close to its foundation base. which comprised a heavy steel beam saddle within the core of the building. The saddle beam is supported on four concrete pillars. Early reports suggested that the tower section bolts had sheared.

The crane was rented from Morrow Equipment and was erected on September 9th 2006 by Tukwila-based Northwest Tower Crane Service Inc. The driver was provided by local moble crane rental company, Ness cranes.


The dead man has now been named as Matt Ammon, 31, an intellectual property lawyer at Microsoft.

Local news reports are claiming that the crane is owned by Ness crane a local crane rental company. However as far as we are aware Ness does not own any tower cranes. We now know that it was in fact a Morrow crane.

The missunderstanding was caused because Ness provided the operator, causing the local papers to assume that it also owned the crane.

Vertikal Comment

The crane operator and Ness crane are both being subjected to having every last detail of any brushes with the law published in the local press, in spite of the fact that the nature of the accident would suggest that neither could have been responsible for the failure.

The extent of the exposures include drug charges dating from 2000, and a number of other cases in which the operator was aquitted. It hardly seems right that this should occur before any investigation has even started.

The cranes foundation comprised of two large 20 metre beams connected in the centre by two 10 metre long beams of the same depth. The result H shaped 'chassis' was supported on four concrete pillars that will form the core of the 20 storey building in the basement of the building.

The local press is jumping on the fact that any inspections are not carried out by a state authorised inspectorate, but by the operator or contractor. It is not clear in this case who was in fact repsonsible for the required daily inspection.

Companies which might have responsiblity include. Ness crane - through the operator, Morrow crane the rental company and the main contractor Seattle-based Lease Crutcher Lewis.

Whatever happens this accident is likely to be a major catalyst in changing or at least clarifying the law and regulation on tower crane inspections and responsibilities.