1 Trapped When 20-Ton Crane Overturns in Point Loma - NBC 7 San Diego

1 Trapped When 20-Ton Crane Overturns in Point Loma

The 20-ton crane toppled onto its side outside the Nimitz Marine Facility



    A crane operator remains in the hospital after being trapped underneath a 20-ton crane Monday afternoon in Point Loma. NBC 7’s Liberty Zabala has video of the dramatic and delicate rescue. (Published Monday, May 5, 2014)

    A crane operator was trapped for almost an hour when a 20-ton crane overturned on a dock in Point Loma.

    The incident happened around 1:50 p.m. outside the Nimitz Marine Facility on Rosecrans Street west of downtown San Diego.

    Fire officials said the operator was lifting a 20-foot container from the Gordon Sproul research vessel from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

    As the crane started to lower the container to the ground, it tipped over for an unknown reason, striking an electrical box and sparking a small fire. 

    The operator became pinned up against the electrical box. 

    "It was difficult because obviously it was very heavy equipment," said Lee Swanson, spokesperson for San Diego Fire-Rescue. "We had to be sure the electricity was off that box first of all so that there wasn't going to be any further injury to anyone."

    More than a dozen firefighters worked to rescue the man, who they say suffered major trauma.

    Just before 3 p.m., firefighters removed the injured operator from the crane using a backboard.

    The victim was then transported by ambulance to a waiting medical helicopter, which flew to UC San Diego Medical Center.

    Fuel leaked from the crane onto the dock, so Hazmat crews were called in to clean it up.

    According to Scripps' Associate Director Bruce Applegate, the operator is very experienced and has worked at Scripps for three years as a shop superintendent. 

    In response to the accident, the company will review eyewitness accounts and do a complete forensic analysis of what happened. 

    "This is something that we do routinely. We're going to have to access what happened here," said Applegate. "Clearly this has never happened before, so were going to look really closely"

    The Nimitz Marine Facility is the support and management center for Scripps fleet of research vessels.

    Check back here for details on this breaking news story.