Shayna Stevens was stopped at a red light on Missouri 7 in Blue Springs when she said everything starting to crash to the ground in front of her.
A crane mounted on a large truck, which was being used to help remove the large sign in front of the old White Oak Plaza, came crashing through power lines and down on a pickup truck parked on M-7 shortly after 10 a.m. Monday. The fallen crane blocked the southbound lanes of the road. The sign also came down but did not fall into the roadway and the truck with the crane tipped over on its left side.
A man in the truck that was hit by the crane exited it just before the crane hit it and sprinted across the road to safety. The truck had been helping with the sign removal.
Lt. John Kingsolver of the Blue Springs Police Department said no one was injured, including a worker in the truck with the crane, who escaped its cab after it had tipped over.
"I was parked at the stoplight, and I looked over and thought, 'That doesn't look very safe.' And all of a sudden I just saw the truck start to tip, the sign starts to tip over as well, the guy who was in the truck goes sprinting across (the road) and does like this baseball slide on the concrete because everything was flying," Stevens said. "Once the long pole hit the (power lines), they went flying and there were blue sparks everywhere and there was a really loud noise. And I was just in shock, and I couldn't move. There were three cars over here and they almost got hit. It was extremely scary."
Kingsolver said the three large steel posts of the massive sign had been cut with an acetylene torch near the bottom. The crane was attempting to lift the sign when the sign tipped to the south and then the crane fell, striking the power lines, crushing the bed of the large pickup truck and blocking the road.
The crane narrowly missed hitting a large industrial oxygen tank sitting in the bed of the truck near the truck's cab.
"Our concern was that nobody was hurt, which was very good to see," Kingsolver said.
The collapse caused a temporary power outage to approximately 2,600 in the immediate area in south Blue Springs, including several of the surrounding businesses such as Bank of America and Taco Bell. Kingsolver said the lights at the Blue Springs Police Department even flickered a bit.
Kansas City Power & Light crews were on the scene to repair the downed power lines after the crane had been removed.
Traffic was cut off in all lanes of Missouri 7 from U.S. 40 on the north to the south entrance of the Price Chopper South near Southwest Victor Drive from approximately 10:30 a.m. to the evening so crews could work to remove the crane. Northbound traffic was rerouted onto Southwest Victor Drive.
"We got it shut down pretty good," Kingsolver said of the traffic on M-7. "We really haven't had a traffic problem, except for the few who slow down to see what's going on, which is normal, but there really hasn't been a problem. The traffic flow was pretty good."
Several other agencies were there to assist, including the Blue Springs police, Central Jackson County Fire Protection District, Missouri Department of Transportation, Blue Springs Public Works Department and OSHA, which was called in to conduct an investigation on the incident and oversee the safe removal of the collapsed crane.
Kingsolver did not know the name of the company involved in the removal of the old White Oak sign. No representative of the company was available for comment.
Belger Cartage Service was summoned and brought two larger cranes and other equipment to remove the crane from the roadway, remove the pickup truck from the roadway and tip the truck with the crane back right side up.
Stevens, 21, of Blue Springs, was on her way to working out at the gym when her car was nearly hit by the crane.
"I was on the way to the gym, and I was going there to lift with my legs, and my legs were still so shaky when I got there finally," she said.
She was just happy the man in the truck that was crushed was able to escape.
"That guy almost was crushed. It was definitely the most scary experience of my life," Stevens said. "That guy was sprinting for his life. ... I'm so glad everybody is OK. It was so close ... and it all happened so fast."
The sign removal was part of the construction of the new White Oak Marketplace on the site of the old White Oak Plaza, which will house a new, larger Cosentino’s Price Chopper grocery store, Johnny's Tavern and a dentist office, with other retail and restaurant sites planned for the area in the future, according to the developer of the 20.5-acre site, Cadence Commercial Real Estate.