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Man killed when crane rolls near Elgin, Nebraska

Man killed when crane rolls near Elgin, Nebraska

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A Colorado man was killed Wednesday southeast of Elgin, Nebraska, after the crane he was operating rolled into a field.

Thomas L. Bales, 40, who was working on a wind farm, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate the temporary worker’s death, which occurred while he was working on the Prairie Breeze II Wind Energy Center for Invenergy.

Bales, of Denver, was employed by Tradesman International but worked for Wanzek Construction Inc., the contractor for the wind tower project.

At 9:23 a.m. Wednesday, a 90-ton rough terrain crane rolled a quarter mile north of the intersection of 527th Avenue and 100th Street, according to the Antelope County Sheriff’s Office. The crane got too close to the east edge of the road when it overturned, killing Bales, officials said.

Bales had worked for Wanzek Construction for 10 days, the federal agency said.

“These incidents are preventable regardless of how long an employee works for a company,” said Darwin Crag, the agency’s acting area director in Omaha.

The agency will investigate other complaints from workers that county roads in the area were not closed or warning signs were not set when employees worked near the roads.

Wanzek Construction, based in West Fargo, North Dakota, was cited by OSHA in January 2011 when a worker was trapped between a semitrailer and a pickup truck, OSHA said. The company paid a $6,300 penalty.

An autopsy has been ordered and the investigation into the accident is ongoing, Antelope County officials said.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1068, alia.conley@owh.com

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