Emergency responders are at the scene of a crane collapse...

Emergency responders are at the scene of a crane collapse at the construction site for a new research building at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, police said. (Dec. 18, 2013) Credit: Lou Minutoli

The operator of a construction crane that collapsed Wednesday at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola escaped with minor injuries when he fled the cab before it tipped over, police said and a hospital spokesman said.

The rig toppled shortly after noon as it was hoisting exterior panels for a new building, called the Winthrop Research and Academic Center, a hospital spokesman said.

"At the time of the accident, the crane was being re-positioned to a new location on the site," the spokesman said in a statement.

"There were no serious injuries and there is no damage to the building or any surrounding buildings," he added.

A section of Mineola Boulevard, from Old Country Road to Harrison Avenue, remains closed, police said.

The crane was operated by Bay Crane, which has offices in Hicksville and Long Island City. A Bay Crane employee said "We have no comment at this time."

On Wednesday, Bay Crane Emergency engineers joined county emergency workers and the Mineola Fire Department and Emergency Services Department at the site of accident, which happened around 12:15 p.m., the hospital spokesman said.

Engineers with the crane company were evaluating how to right the crane safely, and figure out why caused it to fall, he said.

"We expect two additional cranes to be onsite to lift and stabilize the crane that was involved in the incident and return it to an upright position," he said.

While police said the crane operator had minor leg injuries, the hospital spokesman said: "The crane operator, who walked away under his own power, complained of a slight bruise on his head and is being evaluated at Winthrop as a precaution."

One of the company's cranes in March 2010 tipped into a 25-story building in Lower Manhattan.

The rig operator's license was suspended after a probe found he had failed to leave the crane in the safest possible position after his shift ended.

Though there were no injuries in that mishap, part of the facade was sent crashing into the street, and five nearby buildings were evacuated.

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