29-year-old woman killed in tragic crane collapse identified
By Ashley Williams, AccuWeather staff writer
June 11, 2019, 4:06:26 PM EDT
Family and friends continue to mourn the unexpected loss of 29-year-old Kiersten Symone Smith after a tragic crane accident in Dallas over the weekend claimed her life. The woman was the sole victim of a crane collapse into an apartment building on Sunday afternoon that injured five other occupants as it sliced into a portion of the structure in the midst of a severe thunderstorm warning.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed on Monday that Smith’s body was discovered inside the Elan City Lights apartment building following the crane’s collapse through four floors, according to NBC News. Photos posted online just after the accident unfolded revealed the utter destruction left behind as the fallen crane left a chunk of the building in tatters on both sides.
Strong wind gusts up to 70 mph were recorded in the Dallas-Fort Worth area around the time of the accident along with reports of heavy rain and hail.
Smith’s older sister, Toni, posted a heartfelt message on Facebook (which has since been taken down) on Monday morning in remembrance of her younger sibling, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University and employee of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare who had a new career opportunity and "so many other wonderful things to look forward to" before her untimely death.
“She was my best friend, and this hurts so much right now,” the post read. “My baby sister....will miss you terribly. Your big beautiful smile, your random singing and dancing, your advice and your unbelievably big heart. I love you so much.” The message has received hundreds of reactions with more 150 comments that have poured in to express condolences to Smith’s family.
Smith’s former company, where she worked as a human resources operations specialist, released a statement in response to her passing:
“We are deeply saddened to have lost one of our colleagues in this tragic accident. Kiersten was a valued member of our team, a dedicated employee and a good friend to many of us. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Kiersten’s family during this difficult time,” the statement from Tenet Healthcare read.
Crane company’s history of violations
As the cause of the crane’s crash into the building continues to be determined, it recently came to light that since 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited the company that owned the crane which killed Smith with at least 17 violations, according to CBS DFW.
The Bigge Crane and Rigging Company flew a team to Dallas following the deadly accident to help answer OSHA investigators’ questions, according to CBS DFW. The crane that hit the building was a Peiner SK 415 model, which was designed to withstand 95-mph winds.
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In 2013, the company also owned the crane that collapsed at an Arkansas nuclear power plant, killing one worker and hurting eight others, according to the Washington Post. The Bigge Crane and Rigging Company was initially fined $56,700 after OSHA found that the crane didn’t meet certain safety standards, the Washington Post reported.
Elan City Lights apartment managers informed the 534 impacted residents in a note posted on their website that for the forseeable future, the building has “become totally unusable for residential purposes and you will not be able to reoccupy your apartment.
Residents will be refunded their deposits and June rent as the property managers work with those displaced by the accident to find alternate housing, according to the statement.
Investigators are still examining possible causes of the fatal accident as of Tuesday.
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