‘Everything was falling from the sky’: Victim of crane collapse speaks for 1st time

SEATTLE — Ten months after a crane collapse killed four people in Seattle, an Uber driver who was severely injured is talking to KIRO 7.

"I literally met death face-to-face and I thought I'm going to die,” said Ali Edriss, in his only interview since the accident.

Edriss was driving three passengers on April 27, among them, was Seattle Pacific University freshman Sarah Wong. "She seemed like a super nice person. May god bless her soul. I'm so sorry for her family,” said Edriss.

Edriss and his three passengers were stopped at a red light when a gust of wind blew a crane off the Google building at Mercer and Fairview. A large section of the crane fell onto the Uber, killing Wong who was sitting in the backseat.

"She was killed instantly. I'm so sorry for that. She just got killed instantly. It was horrific. It was tragic. These families, especially Sarah, may God bless her soul."

Investigators with the Washington Department of Labor and Industries determined the workers dismantling the crane did not follow manufacturer’s procedures. The mistakes led Edriss to file a lawsuit.

“This tragedy was completely preventable because all they had to do was follow the manufacturer's recommendations on how to dismantle this crane and it wouldn't have happened. Instead, in order to save time and money, what they did is just remove all the pins at once. So now you have a crane that's unstable and a gust of wind comes and the whole crane comes down," said attorney Mike Wampold.

The accident left Edriss with internal bleeding and forced him to walk with crutches. He takes 15 to 20 prescriptions for his pain and anxiety. "The mental health is the biggest issue for me,” said Edriss.

With a dramatic increase in construction, Seattle has led the nation for most cranes. KIRO 7 was in a car with Edriss as a friend drove him on Denny Way. As Edriss looked to the sky, he told us he was terrified. “So many cranes over here. I’m scared to be in a car driving all the way from north to here, especially seeing all these cranes around Seattle right now.”

Edriss left his home in Libya in 2012 to pursue an accounting degree at Central Washington University. His family is still in Libya while the country faces a civil war. For Edriss, the city he hoped would provide a respite from war, has become the place he lost his sense of security. “When you have a crane fall out of the sky, that is not within the realm of what you expect and people have a really hard time getting over that,” said Wampold.

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