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Published: Thursday, 2/10/2005

Honor slated for 4 killed as crane fell at I-280 span

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Assembly of the main spans of the precast concrete bridge has remained on hold since the collapse on Feb. 16, 2004. Assembly of the main spans of the precast concrete bridge has remained on hold since the collapse on Feb. 16, 2004.
RUGGIERO Enlarge

I-280 construction workers will lay down their tools and shut down their machines for a minute on Wednesday afternoon to mark the anniversary of the crane collapse last year that killed four co-workers and injured four others.

The Ohio Department of Transportation yesterday announced a 2:22 p.m. "moment of silence" at the Veterans' Glass City Skyway construction site along I-280 to mark the anniversary, to be followed at 2:23 by bell-ringing at two nearby churches. Project contractor Fru-Con Inc. and labor unions on the $220 million project all agreed with the remembrance, said Todd Audet, ODOT's district deputy director in Bowling Green.

"The accident's anniversary needs to be appropriately recognized," Mr. Audet said in a statement. "The unions who represent the workers killed and injured and their families have suggested that this recognition be a simple moment of silence observed by everyone working on the project. We also invite the community to join us in this moment of silence."

Joe Blaze, the president of Ironworkers Local 55, said the union wanted something "peaceful and respectful" to honor its fallen brothers. All four of those killed and two of the four injured were Local 55 members, while the other two injured men belonged to Operating Engineers Local 18.

"We have asked all construction sites in the city of Toledo and throughout northwest Ohio to honor this moment in the memory of all construction workers who have died on the job," Mr. Blaze added.

The bells will toll following the silent minute at St. Stephen's Church on Consaul Street and the Calvin United Church of Christ on Bakewell Street. Other area churches "are also welcome to ring their bells at 2:23 p.m.," the ODOT statement said.

Robert Lipinski, Sr., whose son, Robert "Bubba" Lipinski, Jr., 44, of Grand Rapids, Ohio, died in the accident, said yesterday he was pleased that site workers would be kind enough to take time to honor the dead.

"It makes me feel good that people can go on with their lives and still remember things like that. I feel as though there are people out there who care," Mr. Lipinski said.

Also killed were Arden Clark, 47, of West Toledo; Mike Moreau, 30, of Lambertville, and Mike Phillips, 42, of South Toledo. Injured were Mark Buck of Swanton, Josh Collins of East Toledo, Al Hedge of Bradner, Ohio, and Roger Henneman of Curtice.

A federal investigation blamed Fru-Con of Ballwin, Mo., at least partially for the crane collapse, finding that the machine was not properly anchored during the repositioning process that was under way when it fell. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's findings, and a $286,000 fine that accompanied them, are now under appeal.

Assembly of the precast concrete bridge's main spans, meanwhile, has remained on hold since the collapse. An attempt to resume that part of construction on Oct. 23 was thwarted by a second crane incident, also involving crane repositioning, in which no one was hurt.

The second incident prompted project officials to abandon the pioneering "self-launching" equipment that was one of the cranes' key features. Officials now expect main-span construction to resume by late May or early June.

Blade staff writer Joe Mahr contributed to this report.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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