Just after 10 a.m. Thursday morning Conroe Fire Department was dispatched to a man trapped in a crane at the Garden Ridge Pottery Construction location on I-45 near SH 242. When they arrived on the scene the crane that had been raising a 68,000 concrete tilt-wall into place had toppled over. Conroe Firefighters called for assistance from Needham and Woodlands Fire Departments. It was determined the operator of the crane who had almost twenty years of experience as a crane operator and just as much time in the construction industry was deceased under the crane. Due to the weight of the crane and a counterweight that was mounted on the rear of the crane which could drop at any given moment crews were not able to work in close proximity to the crane.
Two additional cranes were dispatched to the scene. They arrived late this afternoon with an entourage of flatbed trucks carrying platforms for them to set up on and counterbalance weights for the two.
At almost 6 pm they had rigged the toppled crane and cut away from its a boom. They slowly began to right it.
When it was finally righted they found the cabin area was crushed with the operator inside. Before cutting torches could be used oil and fuel that collected on the ground under the cabin had to be disposed of.
Close to 7 pm he was finally removed as his family quietly looked on.
Eikenhorst Funeral Directors transported the operator to the Montgomery County Forensic Center for autopsy.
One worker on the scene told Conroe Police that the first wall of the project was being lifted into place when it started to sway. This in turn caused the crane to sway. Fro a condition like this an operator has an emergency release to release the load in seconds. However, the operator stood at his controls yelling at several construction workers working almost below the wall in a ditch. The crane then toppled over. Those men were uninjured.