Lawsuit filed in death of man crushed by crane that collapsed during Houston storm

Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Lawsuit filed in death of man during Thursday's storm
The family and attorney of Juan Francisco Hernandez spoke on Tuesday after he was killed when a crane collapsed during the Houston storm.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Loved ones spoke in public after the first lawsuit was filed in response to last week's major storm that left eight people dead across the Houston area.

One of those deaths happened when high winds toppled two massive cranes at the Sesco Cement Plant in the Magnolia Park neighborhood in east Houston.

Juan Francisco Hernandez, 72, was killed, and Crosby Ware, 66, was seriously injured.

READ MORE: 1st Houston storm-related lawsuit alleges failures after deadly crane collapse

Crosby Ware's lawsuit against four companies in the Houston Ship Channel allege negligence over a crane collapse from the destructive storm.

A lawsuit filed by Ware claims that a video shows a crane falling on top of two cement trucks while workers were inside.

Ware is suing Sesco Cement, ASI Industrial, Lampson International, and McRay Crane & Rigging, all of which operate in the 7300 block of Wingate along the Houston Ship Channel.

His attorney said he suffered severe head, neck, and back injuries.

"It just threw his body around violently and severely hurt him," attorney Kevin Haynes of Kherkher Garcia, LLP said. "Our position is, at the minimum, the crane should have been cradled, and the guys should have been in a muster area to render them safe if not completely shut down."

On Monday, SkyEye captured video of the two cranes still lying where they fell. Ware's attorneys also filed a temporary restraining order to preserve the scene.

Hernandez was a father who died while working to provide for his family when the crane came tumbling down on top of his work truck.

On Tuesday, amid the grief, the Hernandez family filed a lawsuit seeking accountability for what they call a preventable tragedy.

"This man paid the price. He paid the ultimate price: he lost his life," the family's attorney Chad Pinkerton said.

They told ABC13 that their father should never have been working through the storm and that they wanted multiple companies to be held responsible, saying their father's safety wasn't prioritized.

"To learn that his life was taken like this," his grieving daughter, Barbara Kinsey, said. "There's no words because it could have been prevented. There's no reason why he should have been out there."

Kinsey said her 72-year-old father was inside a concrete mixer truck when a large crane came tumbling down.

"He was so full of life. He spread so much love," his youngest daughter, Deborah Hernandez, said.

"He would brighten everybody's day," Kinsey said.

Hernandez's family describes him as someone with an infectious, positive personality.

"He was a wonderful man, very supportive of his family, a hard worker, and he was there for us - whatever through whatever," his wife, Maria Hernandez, said.

He was a hard worker who lost his life at work.

"He sacrificed his life for greed, and that's why we're angry and we want justice," his daughter, Sandra Hernandez, said.

Pinkerton said the 72-year-old should've been told to find a safe location and not to keep working through the storm.

"They left these guys, multiple guys, on-site in a zone of danger unjustifiably just to save a buck and just to stay on schedule," Pinkerton said.

Seeking justice is now one more layer of this family's new and painful reality.

"It hurts so much," Maria Hernandez said.

"To wake up every day knowing that he's not walking through that door, that he's not hugging us," Kinsey said.

ABC13 has contacted all the companies listed in the lawsuit, three of which have yet to respond.

Lampson International Inc. told ABC13 it had nothing to do with this incident and was erroneously named in the lawsuit.

McCray Crane and Rigging Inc. also claims not to be involved and says "no comment."

So far, the eighth person killed during the storm has not been identified. The Houston Fire Department confirmed it was carbon monoxide-related.

The medical examiner's office said three other people were killed when trees either hit them or fell onto their homes or cars.