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Three companies fined in Seattle crane collapse that killed four people

Three companies were cited and fined more than $107,000 in the April 27 collapse of a crane in Seattle that killed four people, authorities said. Seattle police said a criminal investigation has been opened into the incident.

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries’ six-month investigation found the companies didn’t follow the manufacturer’s procedures in taking the crane apart. Instead, workers took out pins and sleeves before they should have, the department said in a statement.

“With the pins removed, the tower was significantly weakened, making it susceptible to the 45-plus miles per hour wind gust that toppled it,” the department said.

Seattle police spokesman Patrick Michaud told CNN the department had opened a criminal investigation, but didn’t provide any details.

“We have an open criminal investigation handled by our violent crimes detectives,” Michaud said.

The crane fell from the roof of a building under construction in April, killing two bystanders and two ironworkers.

Morrow Equipment LLC, which owns the crane, was fined $70,000 and cited “for one willful serious violation” for not following recommended procedures, the department said. Morrow had approved the removal of the pins, according to the department.

A willful violation means “an employer either knowingly ignored a legal requirement or was indifferent to employment safety,” the department said.

Morrow “respectfully disagrees with the citation” it received, “based on the facts of the accident know (sic) to date,” the company said in a statement.

Morrow said it wouldn’t comment further “out of respect for the families” of those “involved in the accident.”

GLY Construction was fined $25,200 and cited for three violations, including “not having a qualified supervisor and other personnel on site at all times during the disassembly operations; not ensuring the manufacturer’s procedures were followed, and not accounting for weather conditions,” according to the statement.

Northwest Tower Crane Services was find $12,000 and cited for three violations, including not following manufacturer’s procedures, not making sure workers “understood their assigned duties and inadequate training.”

GLY said in a statement that it has made changes to its systems and has put protections in place “based on immediate key learnings from the event.”

“We are deeply concerned by what happened in Seattle, and our hearts continue to go out to the victims and their families,” GLY said.

Northwest Crane Services told CNN it had no comment “at this time.”

Seaburg Construction and Omega Rigging and Machinery, which had also been part of the investigation, were not cited with violations, the department said.