Big Blue crane collapse

The Big Blue was a Lampson LTL-1500 Transi-Lift heavy lift crawler crane that collapsed on July 14, 1999, killing three iron workers.

Big Blue crane collapse
DateJuly 14, 1999 (1999-07-14)
VenueMiller Park
LocationMilwaukee, Wisconsin
Coordinates43°01′39.7″N 87°58′20.6″W / 43.027694°N 87.972389°W / 43.027694; -87.972389
TypeCrane collapse
CauseCrane was operated outside of design specifications for the combination of load and wind.[1]
Non-fatal injuries5



On July 14, 1999, at approximately 5:12 pm, the Big Blue collapsed during the construction of the Miller Park (now American Family Field) baseball stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a load of over 450 tonnes (440 long tons; 500 short tons) on the hook.[2][3] Three Iron Workers Local 8 members, Jeffrey Wischer, William DeGrave, and Jerome Starr, were killed when the suspended personnel platform in which they were observing the lift was hit by the falling crane.[3][4] A safety inspector was filming construction of the stadium on that day and captured the collapse on video as it occurred.

Wind speeds were between 20 and 21 miles per hour (32 and 34 km/h), with gusts of up to 26 to 27 miles per hour (42 to 43 km/h), at the time of the collapse.[4] The boom was rated to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h), and other workers had expressed concern at the speed of the wind.[3][4]

An investigation revealed that although the effects of side winds on the crane itself had been calculated, it had not been considered for the load the crane was lifting.

Aftermath and memorial


Three firms were fined a total of over US$500,000 as a result of the collapse.[5] The widows of the workers, Marjorie DeGrave, Ramona Dulde-Starr and Patricia Wischer, settled a lawsuit against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of America, the company responsible for constructing the retractable roof of the stadium,[6] for an undisclosed total of over $99 million.[7]

Teamwork, a bronze sculpture by Omri Amrany, was installed at Miller Park in 2001 to honor the three workers.[7] The Brewers wore an Ironworkers Local 8 memorial patch on the left breast of their jerseys following the accident for the remainder of the 1999 season.[8]

Work on Miller Park was later completed with a new crane, a red and white Van Seumeren Demag CC-12600.[9]

OSHA footage of the collapse

Because of this accident, Miller Park did not open until 2001. It was supposed to open in 2000.


  1. ^ "Case Study: The Day Big Blue Fell". ThinkReliability®. September 9, 2019. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  2. ^ Ross, Bernard; McDonald, Brian; Vijay Saraf, S.E. (September 2007). "Big blue goes down. The Miller Park crane accident". Engineering Failure Analysis. 14 (6): 942–961. doi:10.1016/j.engfailanal.2006.12.002. Archived from the original on 2014-04-27. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  3. ^ a b c "Big Blue Crane Accident: A tragic day at Miller Park". The Miller Park Scrapbook. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "The Great American Ballpark (A)". Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  5. ^ "Three Firms Fined For Total of Over Half-Million Dollars". OSHA. January 12, 2000. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  6. ^ Fallone, Edward A. (2001). "Reflections on the Accident at Miller Park and the Prosecution of Work-Related Fatalities in Wisconsin". Marquette Sports Law Review. Archived from the original on April 1, 2023. Retrieved April 1, 2023.
  7. ^ a b Doyle, Candace (June 6, 2001). "Monument, statue honor Miller Park workers". The Daily Reporter. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  8. ^ "MLB Jersey & Cap History | MLBCollectors". Archived from the original on 2023-03-30. Retrieved 2023-03-25.
  9. ^ New red-and-white crane replaces `Big Blue' at Miller Park site Archived 2019-05-25 at the Wayback Machine The Journal Times, Dec 9, 1999.