Emergency crews rescue worker after crane accident in northern Manatee

MANATEE -- A 52-year-old crane operator was in good condition after his machine collapsed at the old Piney Point phosphate plant in northern Manatee County.

The man suffered a broken leg about 8:45 a.m. when the crane fell and landed on its side, trapping the man inside the operating booth. He was rescued about 11:10 a.m., officials said.

Manatee County EMS Director Ron Coper said the man was laughing and joking with rescue crews as they worked to free him the debris. Once they had him out, the man was placed in a Bayflight medical helicopter and flown to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Coper said the man was operating the crane along a road on top of a berm on the site, at U.S. 41 and Buckeye Road in northern Manatee County, when he felt the crane starting to slide on the sandy soil.

Crane operator was working for a company that is maintaining the watershed at the former phosphate mine, officials said.

Other agencies responding included the North River Fire District and Bradenton Fire Department.