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Crane falls at Aurora medical center job

Operating engineer Mark Tomaro (on crane, right) is treated by Grafton Assistant Fire Chief John Place (left) and Firefighter Karen Kottke after a crane Tomaro was operating collapsed Monday morning at the Aurora Health Care medical center project.  Photo submitted by the Grafton Police Department

Operating engineer Mark Tomaro (on crane, right) is treated by Grafton Assistant Fire Chief John Place (left) and Firefighter Karen Kottke after a crane Tomaro was operating collapsed Monday morning at the Aurora Health Care medical center project. Photo submitted by the Grafton Police Department

Sean Ryan
sean.ryan@dailyreporter.com

There were more questions than answers Monday after a crane collapsed in Grafton and left operator Mark Tomaro with a minor cut on his forehead.

A 160-foot-long boom on the crane collapsed just before 7:30 a.m. as it hoisted a piece of precast concrete that was to be the top of a pavilion at the main entrance to the Aurora Health Care medical center, according Grafton Police Department officials. Tomaro, 51, of Franklin, was the only person injured.

Aurora sent representatives to speak with reporters across the street from the construction site less than three hours after the accident. As builders rerouted truck deliveries from the project entrance on Port Washington Road, Mike Brophy, Aurora’s chief communications officer, said the cause of the collapse is unknown.

“All of the safety regulations were followed at the time,” he said.

Brophy said contractors and Aurora representatives were working with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to determine whether an equipment problem, operator error or something else caused the collapse. He said the crane had the ability to lift 150 tons.

The piece of precast concrete the crane was lifting weighed about 18 tons, said Peter Balistrieri, Aurora spokesman.

Authorities still are searching for the cause of a crane collapse at the Aurora Health Care medical center project in Grafton. Photo by Kat Berger

Authorities still are searching for the cause of a crane collapse at the Aurora Health Care medical center project in Grafton. Photo by Kat Berger

Aurora representatives said they do not know which company hired Tomaro, which company supplied the crane or whether there were any previous reportable injuries at the project.

According to a sign at the entrance to the site, the last reportable worker injury on the project occurred 21 days ago.

M.A. Mortenson Co., Brookfield, is the construction manager on the project at 975 Port Washington Road. Company representatives referred telephone calls to Aurora.

The Milwaukee OSHA office inspected the construction site only once before Monday’s accident, said Nick Antonio, assistant Milwaukee area OSHA director. Compliance officers performed a scheduled inspection June 2 and found no safety violations, he said.

Tomaro, a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, was taken by rescue squad to Columbia St Mary’s Ozaukee Hospital with injuries the Grafton Police Department said did not appear to be life-threatening.

Terry McGowan, business manager for Local 139 in Pewaukee, said Tomaro is one of the best operators in the union.

“He was a very well-trained and experienced operator,” McGowan said.

Brophy said the project will remain on schedule for completion in late 2010.

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