UPDATE | Removal of boom lift from Langley park is a long haul after mishap

It took about 11 hours to remove a 19-ton boom lift from the entrance to Langley’s Seawall Park after it slid out of control and landed upside-down Tuesday afternoon.

“It was a challenge,” Don Carscadden, owner of Island Crane Services in Freeland, said Thursday. “The hardest thing was the 17-percent grade. It kept wanting to come back at us.”

He said the removal operation began about 3 p.m. Tuesday and ended after 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Stephen Johnson, 22, of Clinton was attempting to navigate the vehicle down the steep access road next to the Dog House Tavern when the incident occurred about 1 p.m. Tuesday, Langley police said.

Police Officer Randy Heston said Johnson was driving the vehicle from its boom basket when he apparently decided the paved access road was too steep and shifted into reverse.

The tires spun and smoked, but the vehicle continued down the hill. Heston said Johnson lowered the boom basket to the ground to try to stop the vehicle, but when that failed too, Johnson jumped.

“It appears the driver did everything he could to try to stop it,” Heston said.

The vehicle skidded down the slope and landed upside-down near the seawall’s level walkway after wiping out a small maple tree and a section of railing from the park’s observation deck, and leaving parallel black marks on the pavement. The city’s new whale-alert bell at the top of the entrance to the park was not damaged.

Johnson, an employee of Richard Epstein Custom Homes of Freeland, was trying to get the boom to the seawall for work on one of the buildings along First Street, Heston said.

He said similar pieces of equipment in the past had used the same route to gain access to the seawall.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Heston said.

Carscadden said he and three Island Crane Services employees, assisted by firefighters from Island County Fire District 3, maneuvered the rig back up the hill with two cranes.

A smaller crane was used to right the vehicle, a larger one to pull it up the hill and place it on a flatbed truck. The rig, owned by Birch Equipment of Anacortes, had been rented to Epstein.

Steve Mitchell, Birch Equipment manager, said Thursday that the boom lift incurred “significant” damage, but the extent is still to be determined. He thanked Island Crane and the fire district for efforts “above and beyond.”

“It was fun,” Carscadden said of the removal operation. “And no one got hurt. That’s the important part.”

Gwen Jones was at her job at Mike’s Place across the street when the incident occurred. She said she didn’t hear anything, but came outside when she smelled burning rubber.

“It’s the most excitement we’ve had in this town in a long time,” she said Tuesday afternoon.

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