Worker fatally crushed by toppled crane


Crews worked all afternoon to lift the large crane from its side. The operator had been trapped in the machine's cab for several hours.

It's a disturbing image of a crane toppled over that had a group of worried spectators watching and waiting several hours for help at a construction site near The Woodlands.

Sgt. Joe Smart with the Conroe Police Department said, "It looks like it pinned the cab where the operator sits under the weight of the crane."

Emergency workers who rushed to the scene couldn't immediately rescue the crane operator, who has been identified as Luis Ruiz. Police say the man was among a group of contractors on this site rebuilding the Garden Ridge that burned down last year.

Deena Nicholson of The Woodlands said, "It's really, really sad. It just seems like help is taking so long."

Eyewitnesses told police something just went wrong.

"It looks like he was lifting one of these concrete walls to begin construction of this building, and I'm told it was the first wall of the new building," said Sgt. Smart.

The crane operator was trapped inside the cab for nearly five hours before help finally arrived. Police say they were waiting for large trucks and heavy equipment to lift the machine. As for the crane operator, sadly investigators say this accident appears to be tragic.

Family members tell me the operator's been in construction for about 40 years. They call him a devoted husband and father.

OSHA investigators are on the scene.

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