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Law Of Gravity Operator Suffers Head Injuries After Crane Topples Over In Post Falls

Wed., July 24, 1996

Workers testing radio reception got a rude awakening Tuesday when their crane toppled over, narrowly missing one man.

“I heard a big crash. Just ‘boom!”’ said 13-year-old Brandon Hall, who was riding his bicycle nearby.

Crane operator Lee Brash of Spokane suffered head injuries and was taken by ambulance to Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene. Workers said oak planks and cables slipped off the crane as it tilted over, going through the back window of the cab and whacking Brash in the back of the head.

Brash was being treated in the hospital’s emergency room Tuesday evening. A nursing supervisor said he’d likely be released late Tuesday night.

Joe Sims Sr. of Spokane’s BLT Inc. Crane Service said workers had a GTE antenna at the end of a 180-foot boom straight up in the air.

Brash apparently forgot to retract the boom before tilting it down at an angle so workers could remove the antenna, Sims said. As the heavy boom - still at full length - swung out to one side, physics took over. The boom crashed to the ground, leaving its truck base hanging in midair.

“He just spaced it out. It wouldn’t handle all that boom out over 45 degrees,” said Sims.

“He’d been out here all day in the heat,” said Sims’ son, “Little Joe” Sims Jr.

The falling boom almost hit a worker rolling electrical cable on the ground. The worker declined comment, other than to say a co-worker saved his life by shouting that the crane was falling.

Sims Sr. said the company hired a security guard to keep an eye on the upended crane overnight. Insurance company officials were expected to arrive by this morning, he said, after which the $250,000 crane will be removed.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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