Authorities have identified 29-year-old Kiersten Symone Smith as the woman who was killed when a crane fell on a Dallas apartment building Sunday amid severe thunderstorms that also uprooted mature trees and left thousands without power across the city.
Smith was pronounced dead at a hospital, according to the Dallas County Medical Examiners’ office, after the construction crane smashed into a five-story building near downtown destroying peoples’ apartments and reducing parts of an adjacent parking garage to a pile of concrete and mangled cars.
Smith was a resident of the apartment building, her sister, Toni Smith, told The Associated Press in a brief interview Monday. Toni Smith referred other questions to attorney Jonathan Cox, who said he could not immediately provide answers but that the family intends to issue a statement. The cause of her death has not been determined.
Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans said Monday that the five other people were hospitalized after the collapse and they are all expected to recover. Two people were discharged Sunday; a 35-year-old man and 35-year-old woman remain hospitalized but have been upgraded from “critical” to “good” condition; and a 23-year old man remains in “serious” condition, Evans said.
The crane fell around 2 p.m. as storms ripped across parts of Oklahoma and Texas, bringing high winds, heavy rain and hail that flooded streets and caused power outages. Wind gusts up to 71 mph (114 kph) were measured at Dallas Love Field airport, said National Weather Service meteorologist Patricia Sanchez.
Heavy rain and winds up to 80 mph (129 kph) also cut through the Austin area, blowing down tree branches and gas station canopies, said meteorologist Bob Fogarty.
Sanchez said a crew was going out Monday to determine the intensity of a reported tornado that damaged houses in Copperas Cove, located about 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Austin. A city fire official said about 200 homes were damaged and three of those are uninhabitable.
“The sun was out, and then all of a sudden a wind came in, it got dark, the lights went off, and once the lights got off then the wind started blowing,” Copperas Cove resident Erasmus Julien told the Killeen Daily Herald.
Oncor, Texas’ largest electricity provider, said early Monday that their crews were working around-the-clock to restore electricity in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The company said that at the peak more than 350,000 of their customers were without power, and more than 140,000 have since had it restored.
As of late Monday morning, almost 500 traffic signals were inoperable across Dallas, and about 170 were flashing red lights, according to the city.
At the Elan City Lights building damaged by the crane, fire crews were escorting evacuated residents back inside to retrieve their possessions, as city workers and Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials ponder how to remove the crane embedded in the structure’s east side.
A spokesman for the federal agency confirmed it’s investigating the crane’s collapse but declined to provide further comment.
Bigge Crane and Rigging Co., which owns the downed crane, had representatives in Dallas Monday to assist and cooperate with OSHA’s investigation, said Randy Smith, the California-based equipment rental company’s lawyer. He said the crane was “not in service” during the storm.