A San Francisco dockworker narrowly escaped serious injury on Monday morning, when he jumped into chilly waters moments before the 55-ton crane he was operating collapsed into the ocean.
The man, whose identity was not released, leapt into the water from his position inside the operating cab after the crane snapped and slowly teetered into a nearby drydock, said Ira Maybaum of BAE Systems, the ship-cleaning company that employs the worker at Pier 70, where the accident occurred.
After spending "a minute or two" in the 50-degree water, the man climbed back on to the crane where he was picked up by a company tugboat and transported back to safety, Maybaum said.
The man was able to return to work later that day, although he did end up leaving early "because he was still a little shook up," Maybaum said.
BAE Systems has begun an investigation to determine if the incident was triggered by mechanical failure or operating error. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is also pursuing an investigation.
Officials from U.S. Coast Guard said there was a 100-foot-by-100-foot rainbow sheen of oil surrounding the accident site. They could not give a timetable for how long it would take to clean up the oil or the crane debris, or what would be the environmental impact of the wreckage.
The oil discharge most likely came from the crane’s gearbox, Maybaum said.