A 50-foot crane being used to assist placement of new pilings under Malibu Pier toppled and crashed into the roof of the prep kitchen next to Alice’s Restaurant Monday morning, trapping and causing injuries to the operator and halting rush-hour traffic.
Jeff Patrick, 19, was moving the heavy metal cages used in the pile-driving operations when the weight attached to the extended boom apparently caused the crane, sitting on uneven ground, to topple. Witnesses across the street said the crane appeared to topple in slow motion. It also appeared as if the roof of the prep kitchen, which arrested the fall, may have kept the operator from being totally crushed by the weight of the crane.
It took firefighters, sheriffs, lifeguards, state park rangers and the project’s contractors, using special electric saws and other emergency equipment, almost 1-1/2 hours to free Patrick by cutting open the partially crushed, but heavily reinforced, operator compartment that held him. During the rescue operation, Patrick was given intravenous fluids by the fire department paramedics.
After being removed from the crane cage, Patrick was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center by an emergency helicopter, which landed in the middle of PCH for the evacuation.
Initially, it was reported he had a lack of feeling in his lower body. By later in the day, it was reported that there was no paralysis, and he was being treated for a fractured pelvis.
By Monday afternoon, accident investigators from Cal/OSHA and various other agencies were on the scene. The pier, owned by the state of California, is in the first stage of repair and rehabilitation. Work is being done by Darian Construction, a privately owned general contractor, under the supervision of the state Department of Parks and Recreation. It was reported that the crane was operated by a subcontractor and its employees.
The first stage of pier rehabilitation was anticipated to be completed by April 2000. It is yet unclear how this accident will impact that repair schedule.