Investigators at crane collapse site

July 20, 2008 5:30:41 AM PDT
Friends and co-workers try to cope after a devastating crane collapse. Investigators right now are trying to figure out why it happened.One of the world's largest cranes is now a twisted metal mess after it came crashing down yesterday near the Houston Ship Channel.

Four contract workers were killed, seven others hurt at the LyondellBasell refinery. Investigators were on the scene Saturday looking into what caused it all.

Becky Muldrow knew almost immediately. That's the way things are in the tight knit community of The Highlands in east Harris County.

"Another neighbor is a crane operator and called us almost right after it happened to tell us," she said.

Scooter Odom, 41, lived in The Highlands. He was one of four people who died Friday in a massive crane collapse in Pasadena at LyondellBassell. A formal investigation has started to find out how the collapse happened.

"The area has been blocked off," said Dave Roznowski of LyondellBasell. "The formal investigation did begin at 9am. They are looking at what they can to really determine what the cause of the collapse was."

The company says at the time of yesterday collapse, the heavy crane was not scheduled for any lifts.

"However we have ceased maintenance turnaround activities temporarily we have grief counselors available for our employees for this tragedy," Roznowski said.

Experts with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are combing through the debris trying to recreate those moments before the collapse.

Answers to what happened are important to friends of Odom, who toady focus on prayer for a man they say loved to barbecue and being outdoors with friends.

"It's just a tragedy, you never know just how very sad you feel for his family and you certainly pray for them," Muldrow said.

Deep South Crane and Rigging, which owns the crane that collapsed, released another statement about this situation.

"The Deep South Crane and Rigging Company experienced a tragic industrial accident yesterday in Houston, TX, that resulted in the death of four members of our company family. Our thoughts and prayers are focused on our deceased co-workers, their families and friends, and the extended Deep South Crane and Rigging family.

We wish we had all of the answers on what happened and why - but we do not - and speculating on cause would not resolve anything. But we are actively working to find those answers. We are fully engaged and cooperating with OSHA in their investigation of the accident. Our common goal is to identify the root cause, correct any issue that may be found, and ensure that this type of tragic accident does not occur again."

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