Brickmason rescued from haywire crane

Eric Quinley, a brickmason at Facilities and Services, was stuck on his lift 70 feet above the ground for about 70 minutes before the Champaign Fire Department brought him down with no reported injuries Tuesday.

According to Bruce Rodgers, foreman and brickmason at Facilities and Services, Quinley was working 125 feet up in the air on the brick structure of the northeast corner of the Psychology Building when he noticed a possible mechanical failure.

Quinley, who was harnessed at that time, began lowering the lift as a safety precaution. After descending to 70 feet, he felt uncomfortable and turned off the lift, Rodgers said.

Andy Blacker, Facilities and Services spokesman, said the fire department arrived and tried to reach out to Quinley but came up short. The fire department then began towing cars adjacent to the building in order for the ladder to reach him.

Rogers said this was definitely a “malfunction of the machine (and) not a human error.” He said the man-lift was rented from the company United Rentals.

Steve Clarkson, deputy chief at the Champaign Fire Department, said all the right steps were taken in this situation.

“When something fails like that, you don’t want to continue operating, (as) you’re not sure what’s going to happen,” he said. “So they decided to leave it in place and then remove the employee when they were finally able to access that with a fire department ladder.”

Employees from Facilities and Services then manually lowered the lift to ground level. Blacker said the company that owns the equipment picked it up to begin testing it to determine the cause of the problem. A representative from United Rentals was not immediately available for comment.

“For a scary situation, it was the best-case scenario,” Blacker said.