Crane Collapse in Florida Leaves One Dead, and Another in Stable Condition

Dec. 8, 2022
The Florida Department of Transportation is pitted against the construction company they hired for the job

A construction company, the de Moya Group, is in hot water after a worker fell to their deaths on Monday when a crane tilted over on Interstate 95 in Florida. It may take investigators months to determine who, or what, was responsible.

Joseph Bienaime, 47, had two young daughters, his family’s attorney, Marc Brumer, said.

Another construction worker who also fell is in stable condition, Florida Highway Patrol spokesperson Indiana Miranda said.

The crane failed to hold the two workers above the ground. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) hired the de Moya Group to perform construction on Interstate 95.

A joint venture between the de Moya Group and another construction company became the subject of controversy twice in recent months for two deaths that occurred under its watch: Another crane accident that killed a construction worker in October 2021, and a hit-and-run crash on a construction site that killed a Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputy in September.

Florida is still paying the company for work on multiple other projects, including another $400 million project in Broward.

The Miami-based construction company has served as FDOT’s lead contractor for a dozens of highway projects over the last 25 years, according to its website.

In April, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated the death of another worker, being struck in the chest by a falling crane. The investigation determined that the construction venture, Archer Western-De Moya Joint Venture, allowed workers “to remain within the danger zone while tension was applied to a crane’s load in direct contravention of the crane manufacturer’s procedures,” and failed to “train workers on how to recognize and avoid unsafe working conditions and train or qualify the signal person prior to directing crane operation.”

FDOT is currently paying that same joint venture for a $457 million dollar phase of the I-95 project from south of Hollywood Boulevard to south of Broward Boulevard. That phase is set to finish in spring 2025.

In the moments before the bucket carrying Bienaime and his fellow worker plummeted 30 feet, the crane encountered what appeared to be “failing” ground and tilted over, according to experts who reviewed the incident.

It is unclear whether the de Moya Group had hired a separate company to operate the crane on Monday. Often, with highway work, the company provides its own crane, said Scott Orr, the owner of New Mexico-based Paradise Crane Consultants and a long-time investigator of crane accidents.

If investigators confirm that the crane tilted as a result of failed ground, then the question becomes who, or what, was responsible for assessing the ground.

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Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel