A construction worker rigged to a crane made a heroic rescue on Tuesday, June 30, pulling a woman from the raging waters of the Des Moines River in Iowa, US.
Rigged to an American 7260 crawler crane by a harness and a makeshift chain sling, Jason Oglesbee was dangled out over the water and grabbed the woman, leading her to the safety of a nearby lifeboat.
According to an article in the Des Moines Register, written by Lisa Colonno and Chase Davis, construction workers saw the boat go over the dam and immediately began an effort to save the woman and her companion, who drowned in the accident.
Oglesbee told the Des Moines Register, "They just harnessed me up and dipped me down in the water and I grabbed her and the crane dragged her to the boat and that's it. What are you going to do if she's like that? It's no big deal. The whole crew did it."
According to the article, the construction crew rigged Oglesbee to a crane after an initial attempt to rescue the woman with the crane was unsuccessful. "The woman was too weak at that point to hold on to the crane or to life preservers being thrown to her by a fire rescue crew," said Sgt. Joe Gonzalez at the Des Moines Police Department.
The construction crew, which worked for Grimes, Iowa-based Cramer & Associates, was working on a pedestrian bridge. Robert Cramer, owner of the company, credits the quick thinking and heroic efforts of the entire crew, as well as Oglesbee, crew supervisor Chad Coalbank, and crane operator Joe Lowe, with saving the woman's life.
"We probably violated about four OSHA regulations but in my mind it was worth it," said Cramer. "Oglesbee already was wearing a harness, so they rigged him up."
The American 7260 crawler crane was working a few yards away from the bridge. "The 7260 happened to be right there, they only had to walk it 60 to 70 feet and reach over," said Cramer.
If the plan didn't work the crew and an engineer were making arrangements to get a man basket moved from another site. "Thankfully the makeshift rigging worked, but they were working on a Plan C," Cramer said. "It would have taken a lot of time to get the man basket rigged up and in the water."
The crews were building an arched pedestrian bridge that is part of the Principal River Walk project. Three cranes were working on the project, the American 7260, a new Terex 165 and a Terex 185, rented for the project. Both the newer cranes were on barges across the river, so the old American did what it had to do.