A passenger was killed and the driver trapped in the wreckage for more than five hours before being extricated after a 22-ton industrial crane, which reportedly had just arrived on the island for a Virgin Islands National Park project, flipped and slid off the isolated section of road.
ESTATE MAHO BAY — One man died and another was seriously injured in an early-morning heavy equipment accident when an industrial crane flipped on its side going down a steep section of King Hill Road, Route 20, in the V.I. National Park and slid off the narrow road and down the embankment, on Friday, February 20, trapping two men inside of the cab in the heavily-forested valley above Maho Bay.
The accident was reported to 911 at 7:30 a.m. and it took rescue workers until early afternoon to free both of the victims from the crushed cab of the 22-ton industrial crane, which reportedly had just arrived on the island for a Virgin Islands National Park project.
The driver was cut out of the crushed cab and transported to Roy L. Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas for treatment and initially was listed in stable condition.
When rescue workers were finally able to reach the passenger they determined he had succumbed to injuries suffered when he was crushed between the cab of the vehicle and the trees, according to one participant in the rescue.
Passenger Pinned Under Vehicle
Arriving at the scene, the officers discovered that the driver and the passenger were trapped in the wreckage of the vehicle that was crushed against trees and wedged on its side on the steep terrain off the left shoulder of the road.
V.I. Fire Service, EMS and St. John Rescue, Inc. were all summoned to the scene of the accident to assist after V.I. Police Department officers received word from the 911 Call Center of an accident on King Hill Road at 7:30 a.m.
Members of St. John Rescue using the “Jaws of Life” took approximately six-hours to extricate the men, due to the severity of the accident, the inverted vehicle and the terrain. The driver was transported Friday afternoon to the Roy L. Schneider Hospital where he was listed in stable condition.
“We had to cut the cab open from the bottom,” one St. John Rescue member related of efforts to reach the victims in the crushed, overturned vehicle. When rescue workers were finally able to cut through the bottom of the cab they found the driver was seriously injured and the passenger was dead.
The injured man, whose name has not been released, was transported to the Roy L. Schneider Regional Hospital in the late afternoon where he was listed in stable condition.
Marks on Road Show Vehicle’s Slide
Marks on the steep section of road dropping from showed the vehicle was sliding on its side when it when off the left side of the well-maintained road which drops from the Colombo yogurt stand to Maho Bay, Francis Bay and Susannaberg and becomes North Shore Road through the V.I. National Park.
The two men were on the crane when the driver apparently lost control and the vehicle jackknifed into an embankment, according to VIPD spokesman Kevin Jackson. Because of the steep slope of the roadway the flatbed truck with the crane then slid the road until sliding off the west side of ther road at a curve.
“The driver lost control of the vehicle and it went into the embankment on the right side of the roadway where it rolled onto its left side,” Jackson said. “The crane then slid on the roadway until it slid over the left hillside about 25 ft. down.”
Emergency workers from the V.I. Fire Service, the V.I. Police Department, Emergency Medical Services and volunteers from St. John Rescue responded to the scene.
It took another day to remove the wrecked vehicle from the accident scene and because of its position, Route 20 North Shore Road was impassable through Saturday.
No information has been issued by authorities regarding the identity of the deceased man, pending notification of next of kin. The cause of the accident is being investigated, according to authorities.