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One injured in crane collapse on downtown office structure

A crane towering over a nine-story office building under construction in downtown Charlottesville collapsed Monday morning, injuring a worker and halting work on the building pending an investigation of the crane’s failure.

The crane assisting construction of 3Twenty3, the building at 323 Second St. SE, toppled over around 8 a.m., damaging the skeleton of the building that will include a four-story parking garage beneath a five-story building.

Investigators with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration team based in Virginia and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry are looking into the cause.

Construction workers on site declined to comment on the crane crash.

The structure is located behind the Glass Building and is being developed by Insite Properties, of Charlotte, North Carolina. Atlanta-based Batson Cook Construction is the general contractor. They could not be reached Monday.

The incident resulted in city officials closing Fourth Street Southeast between Garrett Street and the railroad overpass on Monday. The road will remain closed through Friday to allow crews to remove the damaged crane.

Emily Pelliccia, the Charlottesville Fire Department’s deputy chief, said emergency crews aboard the department’s Engine 7 arrived shortly after the call.

“The engine captain met the construction supervisor who reported one construction worker injured on the top floor and roof of the structure,” Pelliccia said. “The supervisor provided information about the best way to access the worker, and the crew went to the roof to evaluate the patient.”

City officials said the worker, whose identity was not released, sustained a broken leg.

The department’s Tower 10 ladder truck parked near the crane and was able to position itself adjacent to the crane and building to get emergency crews up to the injured worker.

“Due to the condition of the roof, which had been damaged by the crane, a rope system using ladders, ropes and other special equipment was assembled to remove the patient,” she said.

Crews secured the injured worker in a Stokes basket, a collapsible basket used in technical rescues because it is light and easily carried onto an incident site.

“Due to the location on the roof, and the unsafe area near where the worker was found, rescue teams had to lower the injured person to the floor below using ladders and special rescue equipment,” Pelliccia said. “From there, Tower 10 was able to use the bucket at the tip of the unit to load and lower the patient to a ladder onto the ground.”

The construction worker was transported to the University of Virginia Medical Center, Pelliccia said.

Two dozen emergency personnel responded to the call, including from the Charlottesville fire and police departments and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad.

The cause of the collapse has yet to be determined. The city ordered work to stop on the project until the damage to the structure and the structure’s safety can be evaluated.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and OSHA, crane collapses most often occur during assembly, disassembly or when moving positions. Wind also can topple a crane, although winds at the time of the collapse were about 7 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Winds on Sunday morning gusted as strong as 35 mph, according to the weather service.

The building is designed to have five stories for a total of 120,000 square feet prior to buildout of the interior. It will sit on a four-story, 200-car parking structure.

The mobile tower crane’s arm was extended across the structure, which is currently steel girders and flooring atop the concrete base of the parking garage basement. The crane’s arm collapsed, falling across the flooring and punching through the floor.

3Twenty3 is designed to be Class A office space, meaning that it features unique architecture, state-of-the-art technology and amenities and appeal. The building will have floor-to-ceiling glass to provide tenants with “dramatic views of downtown Charlottesville and the Blue Ridge Mountains,” according to the building’s website.

The building will feature a rooftop event space and deck, restaurants, charging stations for electric vehicles and indoor bicycle racks.

In April, law firm McGuireWoods LLP leased 17,218 square feet at 3TWENTY3 for the planned relocation of its Charlottesville office.


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