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A construction crane fell into the Kentucky River, months later crews are nearing removal

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Posted at 5:48 PM, Oct 13, 2021

CLARK COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A 500-ton construction crane is being assembled on the bank of the Kentucky River in an effort to remove a smaller crane that fell into the water during a July storm.

Clark County Emergency Management Director Steve Asbury said four to five inches of rain fell on July 1, which caused flooding in parts of the county. It also made the Kentucky River rise quickly.

A crane owned by construction company CJ Mayhan was on a barge alongside the river at the time.

“They were building a new lock and dam system here at Fort Boonesborough State Park,” Asbury explained. “They had almost completed work with the crane. Then the barge broke free, the crane hit the dam and went into the Kentucky River.”

Asbury said nobody was injured, there was no environmental impact, and the dam was not damaged when the crane fell into the water.

“All you see is the boom laying across the face of the dam. And I was under the impression that they just lost a boom. That’s what I figured, but I didn’t realize the rest of the crane was underwater,” said Tom Lykins, who drives along the river daily and noticed the boom sticking out of the water.

As owners, CJ Mayhan is responsible for retrieving the crane, but Clark and Madison County Emergency Management crews have provided support when necessary, according to Asbury.

The crane has been sitting in the water since July because a larger second crane is needed to pull it out of the water, according to Asbury. However, the 500-ton crane is too big to transport and needs to be assembled onsite. Parts have been slowly arriving over the past few weeks.

“They’re putting it together right now and once it’s put together they’ll be able to get the crane that’s in the river out,” Asbury said.

He said the crane did not break when it fell, so crews will need to take it apart in the water in order to remove it in smaller parts. Divers will need to go underwater for that part, according to Asbury.

“The crane lifts it up, but they’ve got to go down and secure a cable around the crane,” Asbury said.

Emergency crews from Madison and Clark County will be on standby that day as an added safety measure, according to Asbury.

Operation plans are still being finalized. The timeline for the removal is not set in stone yet, but Asbury said they expect it will come out in the next few weeks.