UPDATE: At least one person dead in downtown Kelowna crane collapse: RCMP | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: At least one person dead in downtown Kelowna crane collapse: RCMP

A crane working on a building at St. Paul St. and Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna Monday morning, July 12.
July 12, 2021 - 3:48 PM

A crane working on a building under construction in downtown Kelowna collapsed today and at least one person was killed.

Kelowna RCMP say the large construction crane in the 1400 block of St. Paul Street collapsed, today, July 12, and one person was killed.

“At this time, we are not prepared to confirm the number of deceased and injured persons in this matter, but there is at least one fatality as a result of this incident,” RCMP Insp. Adam MacIntosh says in a media release. “We will be providing further details as soon as we are able to do so.”

Paramedics took two people to hospital, one in critical condition and the other in stable condition, BC Emergency Health Services says in an emailed statement. Paramedics remain on the scene.

Kelowna Fire Department has high-angle rescue teams on scene at St. Paul Street and Bernard Avenue.

Credit: Tyler Kovach

The Mission Group, which is building the towers where the crane was operating, issued a news release this afternoon confirming that the crane collapsed at 10:45 a.m. during the dismantling process.

"Mission Group expresses its deepest sympathy for the families of those affected by this tragedy," the release states.

A witness said she saw a worker fall from the crane roughly four storeys high.

Abbey Westbury was at a nearby Starbucks around 11 a.m. when the scene unfolded.

"I saw that crane fall," she said. "It fell and then there was a guy at the top of the scaffolding who fell head first four storeys. We all looked up and said 'there’s a guy falling.' It was like the scene of some movie.

"The other guy climbed down to his friend, maybe stayed there for 30 seconds. I saw him at the top of the scaffold climb down. The other guy (on the ground) never moved, we watched him for 15 to 20 minutes."

A witness said she saw a worker escape through the yellow structure attached to the building the background.
A witness said she saw a worker escape through the yellow structure attached to the building the background.

Witness Miriam Halpenny said she heard a big bang and thought it felt like an earthquake. She said she looked out and there were construction workers running around and that's when she saw the crane had fallen. She said she saw one worker climbing down scaffolding that remained standing, then shimmied across an arm attached to the building and went inside.

Another witness, Michael Woodroff, said it appeared they were in the process of taking the crane down, when it collapsed.

RCMP say due to damage to several buildings along with the danger of the partially collapsed crane, a large area downtown is closed to vehicle traffic and air traffic, including drones, and an evacuation is still in effect. Along with the evacuation, a local state of emergency has been declared. Power has also been disrupted for much of the downtown core.

Evacuated residents have been directed to an emergency reception centre at the Salvation Army, 1480 Sutherland Ave.

"Families of those injured or unaccounted for should go to the Parkinson Recreation Centre (McIntosh Room) at 1700 Parkinson Way," Central Okanagan Emergency Response posted on its site.

More updates from the response centre can be seen here as they become available.

Along with the RCMP, both the BC Coroners Service and WorkSafeBC are investigating.

— This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. Monday, July 12, 2021 to add information about injuries.

— This story was updated at 3:46 p.m. Monday, July 12, 2021 to confirm at least one person was killed and two people were injured.

— This story was updated at 4:51 p.m. Monday, July 12, 2021 to add a video from the scene of the crane collapse.


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