November 18, 2006
"Operator in crane wreck has history of drug abuse"

Today's P-I

The man who was operating the massive tower construction crane at the time of its deadly collapse in downtown Bellevue Thursday night has a long criminal record, including at least six drug convictions.

Crane operator Warren Taylor Yeakey, 34, of Tacoma, who survived the fall with minor injuries, went into a drug treatment program in 2000 after an arrest for methamphetamine possession in Pierce County, records show.
I don't believe the degree of operator fault in the crash has been established yet. But still.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at November 18, 2006 12:10 PM | Email This
Comments
1. Goodness!

Posted by: Michele on November 18, 2006 12:54 PM
2. The Times's headline says "WINDS MAY HAVE WEAKENED CRANE". OK, let's see the evidence pointing to wind-caused effects. Oh, there isn't any. It's just suspicion by State Dept of Labor and Industries guys who saw bolt failures at the base of the tower. At least they were looking for causes in the physical world, which is a good place to start.

Whereas the P-I's headline might just as well say "OPERATOR'S DRUG ABUSE MAY HAVE CAUSED CRANE ACCIDENT". There's no other way to parse it. The P-I article does mention bolt failure, but its Editorial Board in drafting that headline is going for a jugular without ANY evidence of operator misfeasance. It's agreed there was no load on the crane at failure - so the P-I wants to speculate that the operator was loaded, and sensationalize the speculation into a trial-by-media WITHOUT EVIDENCE. What an abysmally incompetent way to deliver news to the public.

Oh, the P-I may say, the operator had a drug conviction as recently as May 2000 - six and a half years ago. And the Times may say that there were some winds a couple of days ago. Neither of those observations is worth the powder to blow it to hell as far as establishing the cause of the accident, but I now declare that the P-I just trounced the Times in the fact-free speculation-and-innuendo contest. Is that worth a Pulitzer now?

Posted by: Hank Bradley on November 18, 2006 01:01 PM
3. Name Search Results

Directions: Click on a highlighted name to get docket information for this case.

There are 32 names that match your search criteria.

Name /
Participant Court Case Number File/Violation
Date Case Type /
Cause Code
1 Yeakey, Warren
Defendant Pierce Co District 5Y751139C 12-27-2005 Civil
Goods and Services
2 Yeakey, Warren
Defendant Pierce Co District 6Y752327C 02-15-2006 Civil
Goods and Services
3 Yeakey, Warren
Defendant Pierce Co Superior 99-2-08580-4 06-11-1999 Civil
TORT MTR VEH
4 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Fircrest Municipal C00023207 01-13-1993 Criminal Non-Traffic

5 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Fircrest Municipal C00023208 01-13-1993 Criminal Traffic

6 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Pierce Co District 1Y0803416 04-24-2001 Criminal Traffic

7 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Pierce Co District 926835557 03-27-1992 Criminal Traffic

8 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Pierce Co District 926982262 07-27-1992 Criminal Traffic

9 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Pierce Co District 93C053349 11-04-1993 Criminal Non-Traffic

10 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Pierce Co District 94C056525 06-01-1994 Criminal Traffic

11 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Pierce Co District P94005057 01-06-1994 Probable Cause

12 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Tacoma Municipal 630828 06-25-1990 Criminal Traffic

13 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Tacoma Municipal 654199 02-07-1991 Criminal Traffic

14 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Tacoma Municipal 1006862 11-05-1992 Criminal Traffic

15 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Tacoma Municipal 1010268 06-10-1993 Criminal Traffic

16 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Tacoma Municipal CR0027340 11-17-1999 Criminal Non-Traffic

17 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Tacoma Municipal D00011342 05-28-1999 Criminal Non-Traffic

18 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Tacoma Municipal D00011343 05-28-1999 Criminal Non-Traffic

19 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Tacoma Municipal IN0103751 11-17-1999 Infraction Traffic

20 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Tacoma Municipal IN0112362 05-03-2000 Infraction Traffic

21 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Tacoma Municipal B00127929 12-11-1998 Criminal Non-Traffic

22 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Pierce Co Superior 94-1-02478-9 06-15-1994 Criminal

23 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Petitioner Thurston Superior 95-3-00816-1 07-07-1995 Domestic
DIS W/CHILD
24 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Judgment Debtor Pierce Co Superior 94-9-06056-3 07-12-1994 Judgment
CRIMINAL
25 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Judgment Debtor Pierce Co Superior 94-9-06035-1 07-12-1994 Judgment
CRIMINAL
26 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Pierce Co Superior 94-1-02276-0 06-01-1994 Criminal

27 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Judgment Debtor Pierce Co Superior 94-9-06049-1 07-12-1994 Judgment
CRIMINAL
28 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Pierce Co Superior 94-1-00083-9 01-06-1994 Criminal

29 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Judgment Debtor Pierce Co Superior 00-9-06249-5 05-30-2000 Judgment
CRIMINAL
30 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant Pierce Co Superior 00-1-02115-3 05-03-2000 Criminal

31 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant King Co Superior Ct 01-1-09081-6 10-08-2001 Criminal

32 Yeakey, Warren Taylor
Defendant King Co Superior Ct 05-1-00472-6 02-03-2005 Criminal

About Lists of Names

These are the names that the search tool found from the information you entered.


Disclaimer


This information is provided for use as reference material and is not the official court record. The official court record is maintained by the court of record. Copies of case file documents are not available at this website and will need to be ordered from the court of record.


The Administrative Office of the Courts, the Washington State Courts, and the Washington State County Clerks : 1) Do not warrant that the information is accurate or complete; 2) Make no representations regarding the identity of any person whose names appear in this court case and name search; and 3) Do not assume any liability resulting from the release or use of the data or information. To verify the information, the user should personally consult the "official" case records.

Posted by: Richard Pope on November 18, 2006 01:11 PM
4. In King Co Superior Ct 05-1-00472-6, Yeakey was charged with Rape of a Child 3. He was acquitted on October 28, 2005. Still, probably not someone you would want to have hanging out around your 14 or 15 year old daughter (or son, as the case may be).

Posted by: Richard Pope on November 18, 2006 01:15 PM
5. In King Co Superior Ct 01-1-09081-6, Yeakey was charged with Burglary 2. But it was dismissed on July 25, 2002 for some reason. In any event, looks like Yeakey has discovered a new method of "breaking and entering".

Posted by: Richard Pope on November 18, 2006 01:17 PM
6. Richard

What the hell does that have to do with operating a CRANE?

Posted by: Chris on November 18, 2006 01:19 PM
7. Richard

Didn't you just run a campaign for Judge?
I thought a person was Innocent unless proven guilty by a JURY of his Peers.

So what does your posting of someones (and do you actually know if the Same person) "record" say about you?

Posted by: Chris on November 18, 2006 01:25 PM
8. How about his convictions in Pierce County?

YEAKEY, WARREN TAYLOR 00-1-02115-3 DEF UPCS
YEAKEY, WARREN TAYLOR 94-1-00083-9 DEF UDCS
YEAKEY, WARREN TAYLOR 94-1-02276-0 DEF UPCS
YEAKEY, WARREN TAYLOR 94-1-02478-9 DEF UDCS

All of these cases are felony convictions in Pierce County Superior Court. UPCS being Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance and UDCS being Unlawful Delivery of Controlled Substance.

Yeakey may not have contributed at all to the accident. That remains to be determined.

Still, it is extremely unwise to trust a piece of heavy equipment that can cause tremendous death and damage -- especially in a highly populated area -- to a convicted drug dealer and drug user. While the recent pedophilia and burglary allegations did not result in convictions beyond a reasonable doubt, a much lower standard should be applied by an employer when considering to hire someone that already has four previous felony convictions on their record.

Posted by: Richard Pope on November 18, 2006 01:32 PM
9. Richard

Thank God you lost your bid for judge.

Maybe a SMART man like you can run that Crane better than him. How many years experience on a Crane have you? How about the guy you already consider guilty, how many years experience does he have?

Do you even know how to turn it on?

And you wanted to be a JUDGE. In Sir Richards Courtroom he is already TRIED & CONVICTED before he is even arrested. You do consider yourself the Judge and Jury......

Posted by: Chris on November 18, 2006 01:39 PM
10. Chris -- would you seriously consider someone as a judicial candidate, even they had even one felony drug conviction?

Then why hire a crane operator with four felony drug convictions? If a crane operator relapses, they can cause a lot more harm to the public (massive death and property damage), than a judge who relapses (bad judicial decisions that can be appealed)?

Posted by: Richard Pope on November 18, 2006 01:48 PM
11. Yes, Richard, one would think you would be able to separate the two issues, one legal and one common sense. Maybe the crane company should not have hired or retained someone with so many felony convictions to operate such dangerous and intricate equipment. Or maybe there are laws against having a felon operate a crane. I don't know. However, there is no evidence out there anywhere pointing to him being responsible for the accident. Maybe you should hold your powder.

Posted by: katomar on November 18, 2006 01:54 PM
12. All the above blather about history of crimes and drug use is an attempt to present speculation about personal character as evidence of culpability in a specific event: the physical failure of the crane. This finger-pointing is a red herring.

There are only two questions needing answers here. One is, was he a competent crane operator? His employer can answer that one. Two, did drug abuse alter his competence in a way that his actions directly caused the failure? Presumably, a drug test can answer part of question two, but not all of it. We don't know yet the exact events directly prior to the failure - but the crane was lifting no load at the time.

And since my speculations are at least as good as those of the local papers (I don't make any money selling sensationalist yarns), I'll venture that there had been some prior stress damage to the part of the tower that failed, and that a detailed minute-by-minute study of the recent history of weather conditions and lifts at the crane site - and any personal observations of the crane structure itself - will be necessary to support conclusions of the cause of it.

The blame festival is ridiculously premature.

Posted by: Hank Bradley on November 18, 2006 02:01 PM
13. Richard

How many times does a crane collapse compared to a judge that affects peoples life's decision everyday.


Do you really value the ethics of a judge? If you did, you wouldn't be "airing" the crane operators record. BTW are you sure it is all the same person?

Does your lil disclaimor you posted keep your ass out of the cauldron?

Poor Taste is all I can say. And yes I would vote for Judge whom had a felony. I believe in redemption, and forgiveness. I also have Faith in people, something I think you lack.

Posted by: chris on November 18, 2006 02:12 PM
14. Maybe we should look at the (possible) criminal history of newspaper reporters. "Lewis Kamb" is one of the reporters for the Warren Yeakey story.

Stefan's voter database lists only one Lewis Lamb as being registered to vote in Washington -- apparently Lewis J. Kamb, born on 12/27/1970:

County Last Name First / Middle Name M/F Number Street City Last Voted Birthdate Registered PAV Status Cong. Leg. Prec.
KI KAMB LEWIS J M 320e 49TH AVE SW SEATTLE 2005-NOV-08 1970-DEC-27 1994-MAR-15 N A 7 34 1433
SK KAMB LEWIS M 90o S 3RD ST MOUNT VERNON 2000-NOV-07 1970-DEC-27 1989-MAR-29 U CD 2 40 301

There have been 5 criminal non-traffic cases, 1 criminal traffic case, and 1 traffic infraction case filed against "Lewis J Kamb" and one civil anti-harasssment protection order petition filed against "Lewis Kamb".

Name Search Results

Directions: Click on a highlighted name to get docket information for this case.

There are 8 names that match your search criteria.

Name /
Participant Court Case Number File/Violation
Date Case Type /
Cause Code

1 Kamb, Lewis *
Respondent Kcdc-west Div (sdc) 91-012497 11-04-1991 Civil
Harassment

2 Kamb, Lewis J
Defendant Seattle Municipal Ct 151871 06-16-1993 Criminal Non-Traffic

3 Kamb, Lewis J
Defendant Black Diamond Muni 15722 11-13-2000 Infraction Traffic

4 Kamb, Lewis J
Defendant Seattle Municipal Ct 111477 05-09-1992 Criminal Non-Traffic

5 Kamb, Lewis J
Defendant Seattle Municipal Ct 189439 02-28-1994 Criminal Traffic

6 Kamb, Lewis J
Defendant Whatcom County Dist C00003729 09-23-1992 Criminal Non-Traffic

7 Kamb, Lewis J
Defendant Seattle Municipal Ct 251535 10-11-1995 Criminal Non-Traffic

8 Kamb, Lewis J
Defendant Thurston County Dist 66561 10-21-1991 Criminal Non-Traffic

About Lists of Names

These are the names that the search tool found from the information you entered.

Disclaimer

This information is provided for use as reference material and is not the official court record. The official court record is maintained by the court of record. Copies of case file documents are not available at this website and will need to be ordered from the court of record.

The Administrative Office of the Courts, the Washington State Courts, and the Washington State County Clerks : 1) Do not warrant that the information is accurate or complete; 2) Make no representations regarding the identity of any person whose names appear in this court case and name search; and 3) Do not assume any liability resulting from the release or use of the data or information. To verify the information, the user should personally consult the "official" case records.

Granted, some or all of these people may be different than the Seattle P-I reporter.

But let's suppose this is the same person, and at least one of the criminal cases resulted in a conviction, or a protection order was granted in the anti-harassment case. Would the Seattle P-I be reporting on the background of one of its own reporters? Would they consider it relevant in the hiring and personnel decisions?

Posted by: Richard Pope on November 18, 2006 02:49 PM
15. Let's give the crane operator a pilot's license, and see if chris wants to go on a trip!

Posted by: larry on November 18, 2006 02:51 PM
16. Interesting thread.

1. What is this guy doing out of jail-that is apparently where he belongs, based on his history. And, since he is apparently a repeating drug dealer, a thief, and a child molester, shouldnt he be in the slammer with the key thrown away?? I believe that might be Pope's point-this dude should never have been on the loose in 2006.


2. Good thing our forgiving friend Chris was not at the construction sight when things went bad. Hate to see a forgiving type an innocent victim.

Just another day at the office for Seattle law enforcement/ judicial priorities.

Get those jaywalkers, entrap those horny prostitute customers; now we are talking real dangers to the public.

Seattle appears to be turning into a real live 24/7 Mad Hatter's Tea Party.....

Posted by: Hank on November 18, 2006 03:00 PM
17. Actually, we SHOULD investigate the issue of Lewis Kamb's background. Especially since he is an investigative reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and wrote a series of biased and unflattering articles against the King County Sheriff's Office in their "Conduct Unbecoming" series.

It is interesting that a Lewis Kamb, DOB" 12/27/1970 apparently maintained simultaneous voter registrations in King County and Skagit County. There is nothing per se illegal about this, so long as truthful information is provided for each registration, and you don't vote in the same election twice.

Kamb registered to vote in Skagit County on 03/29/1989 and last voted there on 11/07/2000. In the intervening period, Kamb registered to vote in King County on 03/15/1994 and last voted there on 11/08/2005. His Skagit County registration has recently been cancelled as a duplicate.

Perhaps Stefan can look at his database disc(s), and tell us whether or not Kamb ever voted twice (in both King and Skagit Counties) in the same election? I would note that Kamb's Skagit County address is also the residence of (apparently, based on DOB and surname) his mother, a man around his mother's age, and two (apparently, based on DOB and surname) of his grandparents.

Posted by: Richard Pope on November 18, 2006 03:01 PM
18. Chris
Your commentary about forgiveness and faith in people sure was heartwarming. But your philosophy begins to border on stupidity when you still have faith or forgiveness for those who repeatedly violate the law. These people have shown they can't be trusted. And whether you want to believe it or not the crane operator has a long record of convictions. So before I put him in a crane or behind the wheel of any equipment I make damn sure that he isn't a meth head.

You vilify Richard for posting court records, which are public. Unfortunately, that is part of who Warren Taylor is. The newspaper references these convictions and a criminal record so why are you all up in arms about it when someone posts it on a blog? Could it possibly be because you disagree with their politics?

Further, I'd rather vote for a judge who isn't afraid to look at a past/pattern when making a ruling then a judge who can't abid by the law. But you should stick with your "I am not going to judge convicted criminals for their wrong doing just Richard for posting their public records." That apologist flawed logic philosophy seems to work well for you!

Posted by: Joe on November 18, 2006 03:12 PM
19. I smell a spin doctor.

At that counts is a) was he under the influence at the time of the accident. b) was the crane structurally sound.

My guess is that Ness cranes has already started passing the buck to the crane operator. It is not the first time someone has died on because of their cranes.

Posted by: Vince on November 18, 2006 03:16 PM
20. Based on his 2005 charge for Rape of a Child 3, I would have to say that Yeakley appears careless in his personal life, in addition to having seriously defective morals.

Yeakley has been married to the same woman since 2001. Apparently she loves him a great deal, based on her reaction to the tragedy on Thursday.

Yet, in July 2004, Yeakley had sex with a 15 year old girl twice in her home. He told detectives that the girl told him she was 18 years old. He was tried by a jury and acquitted. In Washington, if you have sex with an underage child, you can still be acquitted if you convince the jury that the child told you he/she was of sufficient age (i.e. old enough for the sexual act not to be criminal) and that you reasonably believed the representations. However, this is what they call an affirmative defense -- you have to convince the jury by a preponderance of evidence (more likely than not) that your defense is true.

So Yeakley was acquitted, because he convinced the jury that the girl told him she was 18, and that he reasonably believed what she was saying. Good for him (and his highly capable defense attorney). And good for the jury in carefully weighing the facts of the case, and reaching an impartial verdict.

However, a CAREFUL inspection of the girl would have revealed she was not of legal age of consent (at least 16 in this state). A CAREFUL older man wanting to have sex with a teenage girl (or boy for that matter) would, at the very minimum, want to see their driver's license or state ID card, so their actual age could be carefully determined. And obviously, a 15 year old doesn't have these forms of identification at all.

If Yeakley couldn't be CAREFUL in determining the age of his sexual partner in order to avoid committing a felony sex crime, then perhaps he wasn't CAREFUL in inspecting the crane each time before using it?

Posted by: Richard Pope on November 18, 2006 03:33 PM
21. Hey RP - I have no greater like of junkies, pushers or child molestors than most people (probably less, if that's possible), but you are stretching pretty thin on your presumptions.

Test him well for drugs. Test the crane well for signs of metal fatigue and wind damage and every other defect. Then start to assign probabilities.

Posted by: krm on November 18, 2006 03:52 PM
22. Like many blue collar occupations these days, the construction industry is hurting for anyone with skills. I've got to think that even in lean times, an experienced tower crane operator is probably hard to find. Now factor in that there are 15 or so cranes in Bellevue alone. Ness probably overlooked this guy's record, if they looked at all.

With no wind blowing, and no load being carried, either a bolt or bolts decided to fail (possible) or the crane was being operated outside its safe range (perhaps too fast?). At the minimum, I hope somebody took a sample of the operator's blood immediately after the accident. For the record, I heard that there are around 85 crane related deaths per year.

As far as the PI is concerned, their going after the person doesn't surprise me. It's what has been taught in journalism school since the days of Woodward & Bernstein.

Posted by: Organization Man on November 18, 2006 04:34 PM
23. Pope's just "got 'em in a wad" becasue the crane got a lawyer. And a crane, unles it's a bird, cannot kill on it's own volition, you know, kind of like a gun CAN, so it's gotta be the operators fault.

Posted by: JT on November 18, 2006 05:35 PM
24. The Crane operator and his Wife are guilty as hell. Him for his past, and her for standing beside him.

Don't base it on any FACTS, base it on the persons past. In that case Richard, I can see why you lost.

Posted by: Chris on November 18, 2006 05:44 PM
25. I am trying to think how an operator could operate the crane in such a way as to cause it ti fall over. Did it have a load? If not, I don't see how he could cause it to fall over. Did they do a blood test for drugs after the accident?

The issue of why a druggie is operating a crane is a valid one. But I see it as a seperate issue from h the reason for the crane toppling.

Posted by: pbj on November 18, 2006 06:39 PM
26. There are 13 cranes in downtown Bellevue. The 14th crane went up at the Bravern site just west of I-405 on NE 8th ST just last week. It is now the 13th crane in downtown Bellevue since the 333 Tower's crane has now gone down.

Posted by: Super_stitious on November 18, 2006 06:39 PM
27. pbj - the crane operator is responsible for the safety checks on the crane. Depending on the crane, where its used, type of check being done, etc, those safety checks could be daily, weekly or monthly. Bolts come loose, fittings become worn, cables fray, steel can rust. These maintenance items are to be caught by the crane operator.

Crane operators self check - per L&I. The City, County and State do not check cranes or crane safety. A licensed engineer signs off on the basic installation of the crane. After that, the crane operator does the periodic checks. Ness says (per their web site) that they have a safety officer who sometimes checks in on site. Ness (per their web site) also says they have a "zero tolerance policy" on drugs (but apparently not drug history and drug convictions).

A guy whose past records shows poor judgment might - just might - be a questionable choice for ensuring the daily safety checks and operation of a 210 foot tall crane.

Posted by: E on November 18, 2006 07:16 PM
28. Politics may rear its ugly head

Lease Crutcher (bill lewis) is old money, old Seattle and $5 says they are tied in to Nickels and the goold old (Dem) boy gang...

Now Bellevue is where it happened, but since Seattle dems control Labor and Industries,etc...

Posted by: righton on November 18, 2006 08:19 PM
29. It may be hard to imagine such a large structure as being fragile, but a tower crane is just that. The envelope they operate within is extremely small, with little margin for error. If the crane operator is "twitching," the margin shrinks considerably.

You can bet that Ness did not just cavalierly come up with a alternate way to secure the crane to its foundation. An engineer or engineers had to be involved. Engineers, especially structural engineers, are a conservative lot.

Visit PI.com and read the "Sound Off" posts for an interesting take on this PI article by loyal PI readers. One would think that the entire readership of the PI are meth addicts and/or child rapists.

Posted by: Organization Man on November 18, 2006 09:19 PM
30. Don't know if it's the same person, but any employer should be extremely cautious of employees operating machinery with multiple drug violations. A smart employer would have insisted on a drug test immediately following any incident.

Anybody familiar with employee and/or safety regulations that apply in this industry?

Posted by: dl on November 18, 2006 10:31 PM
31. Organization Man -

Thanks for the tip on reading "Sound Off". I found this interesting bit in comment #94040:

"I am sure not going to make any excuses for people who have a drug habit, or may have been using drugs while on a job, but there is NOTHING at this point that even suggests that the operator had anything to do with this failure.

It was reported today that a contractor had noticed that the crane was leaning at least 3 feet out of vertical as of last weekend. IF this is the case then it is likely the operator could have done nothing to prevent the accident."

(All emphases mine)

Interesting logic, that. Consider the following statements from the article:

"Regulations require that cranes be inspected before each use, and that responsibility falls to the operator in most cases. It was unclear Friday whether Yeakey or someone else had responsibility for daily inspections of the toppled crane."

Dean Ikeda, deputy regional administrator with OSHA's Seattle office:
"The companies on the job site are responsible for making sure the cranes are safe, he said. OSHA does require that someone inspect the crane before each use, and a more thorough investigation is conducted once per year. The person has to be trained for the inspection."

So, there is apparently at least one report that "a contractor noticed that the crane was leaning at least 3 feet out of vertical as of last weekend".

If that turns out to be true, then the crane was apparently used at least four times (Mon-Thur) despite the misalignment. Since Labor & Industries requires that this type of crane be inspected before each use, that would indicate that the individual responsible for the inspections failed four times to detect and report the problem.

If the article is correct, that the "responsibility falls to the operator in most cases", and if, in fact, Yeakey had that responsibility, then he certainly could have prevented the accident, by reporting the problem and refusing to operate the crane until it was fixed.

This connection was apparently just a bit too subtle for the author of the "Sound Off" comment to grasp.

It should be obvious that an individual convicted of at least four drug-related felonies, like Yeakey, has very poor judgment.

An individual with one conviction on their record might, with proper rehabilitation and the passage of time, reasonably be considered for a crane operator job. But with his record, Yeakey should never have been hired.

Posted by: ewaggin on November 18, 2006 10:44 PM
32. @Richard Pope

I find it curious that you are demonizing the operator before the information about the cause of the accident is determined. As someone who has had experience with complex machinery (I was a reactor operator on a nuclear submarine), I should note that you will rarely find an engineering failure that has a single cause. Instead there will be many causes that differ in their severity.

Take for example the failed bolts--why did they fail? Were they overstressed by a single event or by multiple cyclic events? Only if the accident was by a single event, the bolts and other components were in proper working order, and the operator failed to follow procedures could we say that it was the fault of the operator. Then we need to ask about the operator's history operating cranes and how management and other workers thought about the ability of the operator (did he have a history of disregarding procedure or have a low level of knowledge and proficiency for a crane operator?). If the operator did actually have a history of disregarding procedure or had a low level of knowledge and proficiency, then we can ask if his personal history played a major role. But even if it did, we are not done yet. Why would the owner's of the crane put this person in a position of great importance? Why would the management not have a proper monitoring program to detect poor operators and why would other workers not report the danger?

But this is only one line of questioning. We are probably going to find that the crane did have some sort of defect and that previous inspections were not all carried out according to procedure (do we really think that a problem occurred just before this single operator's shift?).

The thing about these types of engineering investigations is that they are fairly boring and not particularly sexy for investigative journalism. While an investigation into the operator's proficiency at operating cranes, the history of bolt failure on this type of crane, or the quality of the crane company's equipment inspection program would have been many times more useful for a reader to understand the incident, apparently the reporter thought these topics too boring. They think that a witchhunt would be much more exciting! And from your posts above, I think you would heartily agree!

Posted by: DP on November 18, 2006 11:11 PM
33. @Organization Man

"If the article is correct, that the "responsibility falls to the operator in most cases", and if, in fact, Yeakey had that responsibility, then he certainly could have prevented the accident, by reporting the problem and refusing to operate the crane until it was fixed."

Correct. I don't believe in single-point failures, and apparently you don't either. As you noted, if the crane was actually defective in some way, the company's equipment monitoring program failed to catch it or the operator's failed to report it. The operator during the failure may certainly receive a lot of the blame, but so does the management and the other operators. Don't expect the PI to continue to cover this story because it is now getting too complicated.

Posted by: DP on November 18, 2006 11:21 PM
34. Whoops, my last post should have been towards ewaggin, not Organization Man (though I did find the posts at the PI to be interesting and scathing).

Posted by: DP on November 18, 2006 11:23 PM
35. I wonder if the local crane operators union helped him get the job, or had something to do with making it harder for a company to turn down one of their members?

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 18, 2006 11:35 PM
36. BTW, if it was three feet out of vertical, that's operator error because they have level guages and all sorts of other guages in the cab to help them make sure that the crane has the proper attitude and loading, etc. The operator is supposed to monitor all of those guages. But we'll have to see what the facts show.

The guy definitely appears to have a negligent personal history, that could easily be used by a good high paid lawyer hired by a construction firm, crane insurance company, etc.

It's nice that Pope looked up the info, but I agree, in light of his posts, it's a darn good thing he lost his bid for judge.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 18, 2006 11:42 PM
37. Hmmmm....The Pee Eye's bizarre angle on this crane failure is beyond Red Herring and Pope has eaten all the way to the reel on the fishing rod.
The Pope (the guy from Italy not the Bellevue one) could have been in the cab and it was going over looking at how it failed at the base.

The structure the crane was anchored to failed suddenly. The operator reported a loud bang before the crane began to move and then to fall. The jib and counterbalance did not fail looking at where they made it to relative to the crane tower. The crane was not moving, no load and the winds were minimal. The eye witnesses on the ground report a stationary condition of the crane as did the operator as it began to fall.

The tower is intact all the way to the point of anchorage built and designed be others. But at the anchorage it gets interesting...one steel wide flange beam supporting the north legs is pulled up and out and is still partially attached to the north legs. While about 3 to 6 feet of the broken south tower legs and the other wide flange is still in place. KING 5 had the money shot of the pulled out north wide flange showing a nice 45 degree angle break on one end of the beam from bottom to top. The beam probably sheared. That probably was the BANG the operator reported. Looking at it from the Key Bank Building Parking lot Friday it had a dull surface on the failed wide flange; just like steel looks like when failed this way.

Since this was not a wear and tear failure and was NOT part of the crane the operator would never had caught this no matter how many drug convictions he has.

BTW KOMO's report of some house builder saying he saw the crane 3 feet out of plumb last Sunday is not possible. Since the jib (the part that has the hook) is perpendicular to the tower the jib plane would have been 1.5 to 2.5 feet out of a flat plane (depending on its jib length and that the tower was around 210' feet high) as it slewed (turns) around. Besides my sidewalk view of the crane on Thursday had it vertical unless the Key Bank Building is also leaning over 3 feet.

Also on Thursday I watched a photographer taking nice pictures of the job site and crane with his commercial SLR. He and I were standing on 108th between the driveway to the Summit garage and Bell Pinnacle garage. Don't know if he was a free lancer or paid by one of the contractors or suppliers on the job. But he was snapping away.


So tonight some Professional Engineer or a weld inspector or a bad piece(s) of steel is really where the focus should be. Old Timers may have seen it before but never have I seen a tower crane installed on anything but a concrete foundation that is at the bottom of the building pit for building site like this.

This building was being built on the remains of the abandoned Tech Tower and the original tower crane was west of this one by about 30 to 40 feet but was pulled in about 2002. Since the new building is a plain box as compared to the sweeping curves of the old building it had to be moved for the new design. I was surprised as the next guy when the new foundation was not a new block of concrete and holes cut through the existing parking slabs for the new crane but is put on a never before seen one off steel frame attached to the structure built 4 years ago. One offs are already spooky but where was the peer review on this one? What did they do when they restarted the stalled and redesigned Lincoln Center in Bellevue were those on new concrete foundations, new steel frames, the original concrete foundations???

Fatigue is not usually a design consideration in building structural design as the materials are tough in the engineering sense and the amount of cycling of loads relative to the allowable stress of the materials is not usually a controlling condition on design (our friends in the aircraft industry, however, live and breathe fatigue issues) (Remember the case of the JAL 747 bulkhead repair that lead to a crash-a one off repair with a one off engineering mistake). But in this case we have a tower crane spinning around all day long putting stress reversals on those legs at a high rate literally bending that support structure up and down up and down (two legs in tension two legs in compression all the time but switching the pushes and pulls all the time as the jib slews around).

Hey you PE/SE's out there- commentary? I am not one just have some knowledge of the industry so some of my poor man's analysis could/can will be shot full of holes but I wrote all this to say it was not a guy with drug convictions that caused this and we got a lot of sloppy/lazy reporting going on. To the media it has no sex, no Republicans, no fire, no way to tear down America nothing in the excitement template but bingo they found something-convictions and a builder driving by saying it is 3 feet out of plumb 5 days before it fell.


The media again demonstrates conclusively their lack of understanding of the post collapse issues. Shark's nomination of the PI as the worst paper in America is backed up by this awful reporting.

Posted by: Col. Hogan on November 19, 2006 12:42 AM
38. The Operators and Engineers Union is nepotism and cronyism central. He's probably somebody's nephew or drinking buddy. He would have to be currently incarcerated not to get a job.
On the other hand, a US Navy trained deck crane operator with a spotless criminal and work history and five year's experience but has no family or other relationship to a union member couldn't get a job as a entry level rigger through this union.

Posted by: q8dhimmi on November 19, 2006 12:48 AM
39. I walked out by the site tonight. Police bar anyone walking by the side of it where the apartment was hit, killing a man. But you can see the clear plastic they've covered all the units at and below his to protect from weather. What a mess. Hard to believe the giant swath of wreckage this thing cut.

Posted by: Michele on November 19, 2006 01:40 AM
40. You hypocrites. You elect a President with every bit a dubious past and you continue to back him, even though he has initiated an illegal war that has killed thousands.
Wait until the investigation is done. They did the same thing, attack the operators character, when a crane fell in San Francisco in the early 90's. He was also exonerated. The Shrub will not be so lucky.

Posted by: Dale on November 19, 2006 08:31 AM
41. And there we have it, at 8:31 a.m. Bush caused the crane to collapse.

Posted by: Organization Man on November 19, 2006 08:47 AM
42. Col. Hogan,

Nice job of giving far more detail and intelligent analysis that both local papers combined.

Reporters being mostly concerned with social issues (you'd think this event was a soap opera by all the bystander quotes), and that may explain their rush to mount a blame festival. Unlikely they'd understand a shear failure unless you sat them down and gave them a lecture - and then they'd be too pressed by their deadlines to listen to it. Worse, that drive-by remark about '3 feet out of plumb' appears to be unsourced, so why credit it at all?

My comments (I am a PE) on the druggie red herring are above at #2 and #12, but I certainly concur with your analysis and recommendations given the observations you've presented.

Posted by: Hank Bradley on November 19, 2006 10:57 AM
43. "One would think that the entire readership of the PI are meth addicts and/or child rapists."

Aren't they?

Posted by: William Randolph on November 19, 2006 11:06 AM
44. "He would have to be currently incarcerated not to get a job."

What about a furlough from the slammer on work release? Better yet - early release from an overcrowded slammer.

Posted by: William Randolph on November 19, 2006 11:12 AM
45. The defamation of the operator and insidious allegations made by the local news(??) agencies is very disturbing. I work for a local contractor. who utilizes tower cranes every day for large commercial projects. The news folks are quick to blame the operator and the lack of crane inspection oversight by some federal agency.

Beyond the background of the operator, the failure itself is fairly obvious that it was not the tower crane itself, but rather the mounting method that was used to anchor it to the pre-existing building. it was not put back in the original location when the project first started. This is the rub, not some operator with a shady past and some underlying stink of cranes not being inspected. We (as a company) inspect every crane before and after they are installed, as well as the daily maintenance during operations, and the re-torquing after installation. The last thing we want is to have one come down.

The fact that the crane was being "put to bed", with no load, makes any potential operator error nearly impossible. It there was a load at the end of the jib, and it fell over, then look at the operator. Not so in this case. The crane was static. Something other than the operator was at fault.

Cranes are inherently out of plumb when static. The counterweights are designed to counteract the maximum load at the tip of the jib, based upon jib legnth. Thusly, the tower will lean slightly to the counter-jib section at all other times, even when slightly loaded. This is simple physics. The so-called builder saw what is typical of all tower cranes, and this drive by commentary is absolute nonsense. Typical lack of knowledge professed as something else.

Yes, there is a serious shortage of operators and other skilled workers right now. The market is saturated with projects. Ness Cranes is supplying an operator for this crane. The bashing of Ness is ill-considered. They are primarily a service company, providing mobile cranes to contractors all over. They don't own or operate any tower cranes. They are the primary hoisting service for the installation and dismantling of most tower cranes in the local area. They are very experienced and knowledgeable. Another company is responsible for the actual erection labor. The cranes are installed, and then load tested and reinpsected by Morrow prior to release for use by the renting contractor. Ness has nothing to do with tower itself. It is owned by Morrow and rented by Lease Crutcher Lewis. They are the responsible contractor for all that happens to or from the tower crane, and will bear the brunt of this collapse, sorry to say. A good company with a good reputation.

Everyone needs to quit playing judge and jury with the operator. If it comes back that there is negligence, then fine. But until, then, leave off. It is apparent, IMHO, that this was not operator error, but a structural failure at the base connection. Let the investigation proceed and let the chips fall where they may.

Col Hogan- Good job. You have the common sense on this one. Most cranes are installed to concrete foundations. This was an exception. The mounting system was engineered to take loads, so that leaves two possible situations: bad design or material failure. Thats where the investigation is headed.

Posted by: JPD on November 19, 2006 11:53 AM
46. "35. I wonder if the local crane operators union helped him get the job, or had something to do with making it harder for a company to turn down one of their members?
Posted by Jeff B. at November 18, 2006 11:35 PM"

Ahhhhhhh haaaaaaaaaaa!
This is definitely worth examining.
According to these Unions, there is no such thing as a "BAD" employee. It is very difficult for employers to turn the next guy in line away.
This angle ought to be investigated.
Perhaps other employers have had experience with this crane operator??
Great question Jeff.

Posted by: aaargh on November 19, 2006 01:08 PM
47. This string has taught me at least one thing: I am glad I didn't vote for Richard Pope for judge.

Posted by: BigDawg on November 19, 2006 08:39 PM
48. Conditions at time of failure:
Jib had no load, and counterweights thus placing a bending moment on the tower away from the jib.
No significant wind blowing. However, some significant wind blew during the week prior to the incident.
Mr. Yeakey, the crane operator, was buttoning up the crane for the evening.
Fracture in the base structure to which the crane was anchored allowed the crane to fall over.
I would believe that the source of the failure is a design error in the base structure to which the crane was anchored.
The crane is of a German design and manufacture rated for 20 metric tons or 22 short tons. Since its installation, it was used to transport loads up to 22 short tons, from one part of the construction site to another, the jib swinging, the load being moved outward and inward on the jib, and the pulley lifting and lowering the load.
Probabilities dictate, even when accounting for the effect of metal fatigue, that a failure will more likely happen during high load conditions than during low load conditions.
This is what I find curious, why did the crane anchoring structure not fail during the hours previous when Mr. Yeakey and his coworkers were using the crane to move loads, and when there were gusts of wind, and then fail at the end of the shift, when there was no load on the pulley and no significant wind?
To me, that is a most interesting question indeed.
On the issue of drug addictions: Some people do get over drug addictions and not relapse. It appears that Mr. Yeakey accomplished this. For this he earns our congratulations. Although before such successful rehab, a drug addict can build up an impressive criminal resume!
And he must have used excellent judgment in choosing his current wife because she did not use the divorce system to destroy him when caught in adultery with a girl who told him she was 18!
The Ten Commandments: good advice!
At least on the job, one does not think with his dick. For that reason I consider that matter irrelevant to the matter of judgment in operating a crane with a dodgy anchor.

Posted by: Roger Knight on November 20, 2006 03:08 AM
49. I am not only totally disgusted with the PI for fabricating such an inflamatory headline (typical for the PI) which has no bearing on the tragic collapse of the crane, but also with the group of individuals falling all over the operator for past issues. Lead with assumptions and don't bother me with any facts. What?!! I didn't think the elections results required everyone to start pointing fingers and assigning blame based on a dart-board target rather than rational investigation. There are some very good points made regarding the crane and how these things happen, but the majority of comments are blatantly biased assumptions and say much more about the writers than the crane operator. I'll sit with him, any day, over a seat next to most of you. Disgusted, just plain disgusted.

Posted by: dohh on November 20, 2006 10:08 AM
50. There seems to be two sides. One side claiming operator error and one side claiming equipment failure. How in the hell does either side know what happened? Were any of them there? Have any of them examined the operator or the equipment?

Posted by: Roy on November 20, 2006 10:29 AM
51. q8...oh so true.

Posted by: dl on November 21, 2006 08:56 AM
Post a comment
Name:


Email Address:


URL:


Comments:


Remember info?