OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ) - One man is killed, another is seriously injured following a crane accident in the construction zone along Highway 41 on the Butte des Morts bridge causeway.
A crane lifting a 52-ton beam from a barge in the water onto the causeway collapsed during reconstruction and widening of the bridge near Oshkosh. The accident seriously injured a crane operator who works for Lunda Construction Company, based in Black River Falls.
Additionally, when the crane collapsed, it fell on a construction worker employed by Spancrete, who was working within the construction zone. That worker, 35-year-old Joseph Bidler of Green Bay, died at the scene. Spancrete is a subcontractor to Lunda.
In a statement, Spancrete chairman John Nagy, said the thoughts and prayers of every employee at Waukesha-based Spancrete are with Joseph's family at this difficult time.
"Spancrete is a family company, and Joseph is a part of our family," said Nagy. "This tragic accident touches each and every one of us."
U.S. 41 Projects Group Construction Supervisor Brian Roper says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department are investigating the incident.
"Work in the immediate vacinity has been shut down at this time as they attempt to reconstruct the events that led to this tragedy," says Roper. "At some point they will issue a report to try and identify the causes of that, but at this time we can't speculate as to what led to the events that happened out there."
It's the second fatal accident to happen during this $54 million U.S. Highway 41 project. 58-year-old Raymond Ashenbrenner of Black River Falls was killed in late April while unloading a crane near De Pere, south of Green Bay.
Roper says the two fatal incidents are not related.
"The incident in April involved unloading the actual crane from the truck and getting it assembled when that unfortunate incident occurred," says Roper. "Whereas this one, with the two cranes under actual contractor operation, it was different."
Wisconsin's Department of Transportation says they will work with all agencies involved to review safety procedures and to make sure all safety guidelines are followed.
It's unclear when work will resume at the site, but Roper says officials are comfortable with meeting the target dates in this project.