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NEWPORT BEACH : Construction Crane Crashes Into Building

August 26, 1995|GEOFF BOUCHER

An errant construction crane crashed into the roof of a soon-to-be-opened health food store Friday, taking a chunk out of the building's roof, knocking down a few utility lines and leaving nearby merchants wondering if they had felt an earthquake.

No one was hurt in the late-morning accident. The co-owner of Health Emporium at 3347 E. Coast Highway said human error was to blame for the accident, which probably will delay the opening of the store.

"Right after it happened, the crane operator told me his foot slipped off the pedal," said Torin Pavia, 24. "The whole building shook when it happened. The guy from the barber shop next door ran over. He thought we had had an earthquake."

A spokesman for the Police Department confirmed that the driver's foot had slipped from the pedal. When that happened, Lt. Don Chandler said, the crane swung out of control, broke some wires and hit with the wall of the building. Chandler said no charges had been filed, but that the incident was under investigation.

Health Emporium was scheduled to open in three to five weeks. Engineers at the site Friday said they would have to gauge the structural damage before they could say how far their schedule has been set back.

The crane had been ferrying air conditioning and refrigeration compressors to the roof when an arm of the machine rammed into the building's facade, leaving a bite-shaped gash. The damage could have been far worse if a nearby electrical box had been hit, Pavia said.

The 14-ton, 80-foot crane is owned and operated by Mr. Crane Inc., a heavy machinery company in Orange. Company manager Jim Crawford said Friday afternoon that the circumstances of the incident were still being investigated.

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