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15-year anniversary of crane collapse at Miller Park

MILWAUKEE (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Mention the words "Big Blue" in Milwaukee, and many folks will know what you're talking about.

Fifteen years ago today, three iron-workers were killed when a 567-foot Big Blue crane collapsed as it was lifting one of the large panels onto the retractable roof at the Miller Park baseball stadium. It was windy at the time. The crane hit a basket containing William DeGrave, Jeffrey Wischer, and Jerome Starr. They fell about 300-feet to deaths, and it delayed the opening of the new ballpark by a year -- to 2001.

Attorney Robert Habush represented the three widows, and they ended up getting $57-million after a trial and a later settlement. Habush said he remembers Wischer's widow leaving him a phone message just hours after the incident. He said her husband was concerned about the safety of the construction site for some time -- and if something happened to him, she should call Habush.

The company that leased the crane, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was found 97-percent negligent and the crane's owner three-percent.

A sculpture honoring the three iron-workers is located just outside the home plate entrance to Miller Park.