ACCIDENT TAKES LIFE OF CRANE EMPLOYEE

A collapsed Gantry crane holds the crushed body of an employee of Kaverit Steel and Crane company who was testing the new equipment at the time of the accident Sunday.

By Joyce Hensley

Staff writer

BOARDMAN — A crane operator was killed Sunday when a newly installed $840,000 Gantry crane at Tidewater in the Port of Morrow collapsed during test runs around 2:57 p.m. Sunday

Mile Obradovic, 47, was crushed 60 feet above the Columbia River. He was a technician for Kaverit Steel and Crane company of Edmonton, Alberta.

Obradovic was a resident of Vancouver in British Columbia.

The Morrow County Sheriff's Office, Boardman Police and Boardman Fire and Ambulance personnel responded to the accident calling for mutual aid from Hermiston Fire and Rescue Department.

Portland General Electric Coal Fire Plant was also asked to standby with heavy equipment to aid in the rescue of the victim who was trapped inside the crushed operators cabin.

Due to the precarious condition of the 40-ton collapsed crane, area fire and rescue teams were not able to reach Obradovic.

Engineers from the Canadian crane company arrived Monday to evaluate the accident.

They have ordered equipment to be transported to the facility in the Port of Morrow to aid in recovery of the body.

The crane, owned by the Port of Morrow, is designed to move containers weighing up to 40 tons from the Tidewater facility to barges for their trip down the Columbia River.

"While the Port of Morrow's terminal is shut down to river transportation, the river system is still in full operation," said Lisa Mittelsdorf, director of economic development for the Port of Morrow.

"Containers normally transported through the Port's terminal will be temporarily diverted to the Port of Umatilla or another mode of transportation."

A second Kaverit Steel and Crane company technician involved in the testing procedure of the equipment, whose name has not been released, escaped without injury.

Several ministers responded to the scene.

A rescue diver also stood by at the terminal.

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