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Crane Collapse Injures Workers at California Amusement Park

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Two workers were injured Tuesday when a crane set up to perform maintenance on a ride at a Northern California fun park collapsed along with a portion of the ride, officials said.

Sacramento Metro Fire Assistant Chief Scott Cockrum said two maintenance workers were in harnesses on top of the Scandia Screamer, a 165-foot-high rotating arm that was installed at the amusement park in 2007, when it fell over about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. A third man was at the base operating the crane when the accident occurred, he said.

The men had been removing the arm of the ride when the weight overwhelmed the crane and it tipped into a miniature golf course, along with a portion of a park batting cage.

Both technicians were left dangling by their harnesses about 70 feet in the air but only one was injured. That worker injured his arm when it became trapped between two pieces of metal. He also had a compound fracture to the large bone in his leg.

The crane operator also suffered minor bruising and injuries. "As it tipped over, he got banged up," Cockrum said.

A Sacramento Metro Fire Department crew that was driving by in a truck equipped with a 100-foot aerial ladder when the crane collapsed and was able to rescue the stranded workers.

"I looked over and it just went over. I don't know if it was a gust of wind or just too heavy," said firefighter Bob McDermott. "It was just surreal."

Fire Capt. Mark Repetto said firefighters used the ladder to quickly bring down the injured worker, who had suffered significant blood loss and was in and out of shock.

"We saw the two guys hanging from the top of the pole," Repetto said.

Connie Maita, a nearby resident, said she was walking toward the amusement park when she saw "just saw the machinery go down flat and a big crash."

A person who answered the telephone at Scandia said the park's general manager was not immediately available for comment. Employees at the scene also declined comment.

The Screamer has become the most noticeable attraction at the Scandia Family Fun Center along Interstate 80, east of the state capital.

The ride is a windmill-like contraption that flips riders as it spins around, sending people plunging toward Earth at nearly 60 mph. Neighbors complaining about the constant screeches from riders forced the park to implement a "no screaming" policy just weeks after the ride opened.

Sacramento Metro Fire Department Assistant Chief Dale Turner said the men were performing scheduled maintenance on the Screamer, which was not in operation at the time.

The two injured men were taken to Mercy San Juan hospital. The park was open at the time, but Cockrum was not aware of how many people were in attendance.

The area immediately around the crane and the ride had been blocked off and no one on the ground was injured.

Jason Ramos, a spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, said the identities of the two injured workers were not immediately available.

Scandia has a "very clean record" for employee safety, with one incident listed in the past 10 years, said Erika Monterroza, spokeswoman for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, known as Cal/OSHA.

The violation was at Scandia's park in Ontario, Calif., and involved an injury to an employee who was painting a ride about 42 feet above the ground when a supervisor sent a car forward on the ride, breaking part of the worker's harness, state records indicated. The worker fell on a shed and rolled to a concrete floor, injuring his back, and was hospitalized for 25 days.

Investigators from Cal/OSHA's amusement ride unit at the park Tuesday night investigating the incident.



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