Big Blue anniversary spurs reminiscence, regret

photo from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage

There’s a great column in the Eau Claire Leader Telegram about the upcoming 17th anniversary of the collapse of the “Big Blue” crane during the construction of Milwaukee’s Miller Park. It includes a story told by the first time of a crane operator who was injured in the accident. Mitsubishi was held liable and paid tens of millions of dollars in damages.

Here’s a bit from the story by Dan Lyksett:

Next week will mark 17 years since Big Blue, a 567-foot-tall crane bearing 450 tons of steel, collapsed onto an under-construction Miller Park. The accident delayed the opening of the new home of the Milwaukee Brewers for one year. More important, it took the lives of three ironworkers: Jeffrey A. Wischer, 40, William R. DeGrave, 39, and Jerome W. Starr, 52.

The panel to be lifted on July 14, 1999, was the largest, weighing about 450 tons and approximating the size of a large billboard, 120 feet wide and 76 feet high.

Despite some reports of winds that exceeded the 20 mph maximum the crane manufacturer considered safe, Mitsubishi supervisors ordered the lift to proceed.

“The pick is coming across near where the man basket’s suspended,” Bob said. “And at 5:12 that afternoon, all hell broke loose.”

Read the whole story at the Eau Claire Leader Telegram

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