Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries has opened an investigation into the factors surrounding a fatal crane accident at Google’s campus in Seattle.
As part of the process, five companies are under investigation. They include Gall Landau Young Construction Company Inc. (GLY), Northwest Tower Crane Service Inc., Omega Rigging and Machinery Moving Inc., Morrow Equipment Company LLC. and Seaburg Construction Corporation.
The incident of April 27 killed four people — two people who were traveling in cars and two ironworkers. Included among the four is Andrew Yoder, a North Bend man.
Tim Church of L&I said the department is guaranteed six months by law to conclude the workplace safety and health investigation. Given the complex nature of the case, and the number of companies and people involved, Church said he anticipates investigation findings in late October.
The department has been working to gather information from the site of the accident. Investigators measured where pieces landed, examined damage to cars and buildings, took photos and conducted interviews. Investigators have also traveled to examine the different components of the crane. Church anticipates investigators will view dash cam footage from a within a car when the accident happened.
“(We’ll view) every piece we can to put together a picture of what happened,” Church said.
The crane plummeted from atop a building, and is now red tagged, meaning it can not currently be used in any way — in whole or in pieces — until it is deemed safe. In order to remove the red tag, the crane would have to be examined by engineers. The red tag will remain throughout the investigation.
In a history of infractions incurred by the five companies since 2014, provided by Church, GLY had one “serious” ( a technical term describing a mid-level of severity) violation last summer for allowing employees to work too close to power lines.
In a news statement, the Bellevue-based company said they are cooperating fully with investigators and assisting the local authorities.
“We are deeply saddened and heartbroken by what happened at our job site on the northwest corner of Mercer and Fairview in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood,” the company wrote. “Our sympathy and deepest condolences go out to the families, friends and colleagues of those who were killed in this tragic accident.”
Seaburg, which provides staffing to crane companies, had four “serious” infractions as a result of two investigations. Both incidents happened in 2017.
This isn’t the first fatal crane accident to occur in King County. A Bellevue crane collapse in 2006 killing one person and damaging three buildings. An investigation into the Bellevue accident concluded in 2007. The state discovered a flawed engineering design.
As the investigation continues, the community has been mourning the loss of Yoder.
He leaves behind a wife, Andrea, and their two children — 3- and 5-year-old boys. Andrea said Andrew was her heart, and she couldn’t remember the last time she went 24 hours without talking to him.
“The void left by his sudden and tragic death has made it hard to breathe,” she said in a statement provided to the Valley Record by a family member. “I know this void will never go away, but I am thankful for the almost 12 years we did get to have together, and for how he loved me and our boys.
“Even at just 3 and 5 years old, he was so impressed with who they are becoming. Andrew also impacted many lives, and I’m so thankful to see the overwhelming outpouring of sympathy and loving support during this time so that I can focus on helping our sons walk through this and to make sure they remember their dada in his life, not just his death.”
North Bend church Calvary Mt Si set up a benevolence fund to receive tax-deductible donations to support Andrea and their sons. Donations can be given by visiting http://www.calvarymtsi.com/index.php/give and noting “Yoder Family” in the comments section.
A celebration of life for Andrew will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, at the Westminster Chapel in Bellevue.