BY SEAN I. MILLS Staff writer


STRAIGHT UP — This crane flipped onto its end while attempting to cut a tree behind 1116 Vienna Road in Sylvan Beach this morning. The machine was not properly counter-weighted when it extended the boom arm out over the canal water. No one was injured. Dozens of on-lookers hugged the police tape to get a better view, others watched from boats on the water. (Sentinel photo by Sean Mills)

DOWN GOES THE BOOM — Smashed across three boats in the canal off Vienna Road, the boom arm of a crane sank one vessel when it crashed into the water shortly after 8 a.m. this morning. The boom operator was attempting to cut the tree on the right, but over-extended the large metal arm. (Sentinel photo by Sean Mills)

SYLVAN BEACH — The village held an impromptu ‘Crane-fest’ this morning when a tree-cutting crane tipped onto its end, lifting the cab straight up into the air.

No one was injured when the tall crane tipped over, but the boom arm plunged into the marina off Vienna Road and smashed at least three boats.

"We looked down and I just saw the tires rising up in the air," remarked Brian Osborne, who watched the tipping crane from his porch on the other side of the marina.

"He said, ‘that isn’t the right equipment’, then the next thing you know it was tipping," said Sarah Osborne, who watched with her companion. "There was a loud snap and bang."

Brian Osborne added, "We hopped on our boat to come down here to make sure nobody was hurt, but we didn’t see anyone." The crane tipped while attempting to cut a tree behind 1116 Vienna Road. It appeared that the counter-weights had not been applied to the crane, and were instead still resting in the back of a nearby truck.

The crane operator was not in the cab at the time, fire officials said, and he was not injured. His identity was not immediately available. The height of the crane also could not be immediately determined. Sylvan Beach Fire Chief Rick Stewart said the man was a private contractor doing the cutting.

"It’s kind of a watch and see, you never know," Stewart said on the scene after two other cranes had been called in to try and safely bring the first one down to the ground. "Never had a crane tip over in Sylvan Beach before."

State police and Sylvan Beach fire department responded to the scene, taping off several nearby blocks to keep the dozens of spectators a safe distance away. Portions of Clifford Street and Kenwood Avenue were blocked off to traffic. The crane was tipped up onto the narrow end of the tractor portion, and was in some danger of falling onto its side.

With the village celebrating its "Canalfest" and "Boati Gras" events today, the streets around the tipped crane were full of on-lookers. Men, women and children craned their necks and shielded their eyes from the sun to get a better look before they were shooed away by the authorities.

"We heard a big boom, then the alarms were going off," said Courtney Sarpriacone, who said she was awakened at her nearby home. Her family quickly ran outside to see the sight.

Companion Magee Sarpriacone summed it up, "I think the problem was they didn’t put the counter weight on."

State troopers on the scene said more information would be released at a later time.