Crane collapses on Tappan Zee Bridge in NYC suburbs

Associated Press

New York — A huge crane toppled off the new Tappan Zee Bridge under construction north of New York City and collapsed across the busy span it is replacing, halting traffic Tuesday afternoon on the key Hudson River crossing.

No cars were hit by the crane’s arm as it came down around noon, but Rockland County Executive Ed Day wrote on Twitter that three people sustained minor injuries when vehicles swerved and stopped to avoid the wreckage.

The Coast Guard said the crane’s operator was rescued from the water after the collapse.

Video from a news helicopter showed at least one person being removed from a car and loaded into an ambulance.

Nicholas D’Emealio, 21, of Irvington, New York, was in a vehicle about three football fields away from the crane, toward the center of the bridge, when he heard a bang and his driver slammed on the brakes.

“It shook the whole bridge,” he said. “At first I thought the bridge was collapsing because this is not a good bridge.”

Everybody was OK, but they were stranded. He and his friends got out of their vehicle and threw around a football to pass the time.

The base and treads of the large, movable crane sat on the unfinished new bridge, which crosses the river between Westchester and Rockland counties. Officials didn’t immediately give the length of the collapsed crane, but part of the broken arm lay across the entire 90-foot, seven-lane width of the old bridge, which runs parallel to the new one. Another section lay across a construction platform in the water between the two spans.

After the crash, several boats carrying emergency workers maneuvered in the river around the collapsed crane arm, while other workers appeared to be scanning the water around the wreck.

Rockland County had a helicopter and marine unit at the scene, according to Day. The county executive tweeted that the crane operator was shaken, but not hurt.

The new Tappan Zee Bridge has been under construction for three years and is expected to be completed by 2018 at a cost of $3.9 billion. It is being built alongside the original Tappan Zee span, which dates to 1955.

In March, a 90-foot tugboat sank after it hit a construction barge near the bridge site, killing three crew members.

In 2013, a powerboat plowed into a construction barge at the bridge, killing a bride-to-be and her fiance’s best man. The boat’s driver, who had nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to two years behind bars. The victims’ families, however, attributed the crash mainly to bad lighting on the barge.