Crane collapses at Washington's National Cathedral
A 500-ton crane collapsed at the Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday
September 7th, 2011
03:52 PM ET

Crane collapses at Washington's National Cathedral

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN)– A 500-ton crane collapsed at Washington's National Cathedral Wednesday morning, crushing several cars in a nearby parking lot and sending one person to the hospital, officials said.

The crane was working on the south side of the cathedral to stabilize debris on the central tower, the Cathedral administration said in a statement. Heavy rain was coming down when the crane fell around 10:55 a.m. in a parking lot adjacent to the cathedral, smashing cars and damaging another building on the grounds.

One person was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries as a result of the crane crash, authorities said.

"My understanding is they were lifting materials to the roof to repair damages that were caused by the earthquake," said Fire Battalion Chief John Donnelly of the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department.

A 5.9-magnitude earthquake hit the region August 23, causing millions of dollars of damage to the cathedral. Last week, Hurricane Irene blew down an enormous oak tree in front of the cathedral, causing minor damage.

The cathedral is planning to repair earthquake damage in time to reopen this weekend, when it will host a variety of events marking the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, including a Sunday event that will be attended by President Barack Obama.

When the crane fell it struck the Herb Cottage, a small building that sells plants, cards, and teas next to the cathedral and the Episcopal House, the Washington diocesan offices. The cottage had a hole in the roof and heavy damage to an exterior wall.

"I thought it was another thunderstorm," Father Simon Bautista said. He was on a conference call inside the Episcopal house when the crane fell.

"My office started shaking a bit but I did not have a clue that something like this had happened so close to me. This side of the church house, I would say, just missed it by inches," he said gesturing to his office.

–CNN's Laura Bernardini contributed to this report

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Church • Episcopal • Houses of worship

soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. @Muneef

    Americans need humility before the Creator God for sure in con-side-ration of how the nation was birthed and developed. Too many of them blaspheme. And they burn churches in celebrating their stupid Halloween on a planet of numerous suffering human population. Americans need to be saved from their own entertainment. Some Westerners are an insult to the real suffering people, though there are many good Christian Americans.

    September 9, 2011 at 2:26 am |
    • Muneef

      Am sure there are good Christian and non Christian Americans but the dirt among those seems to become seen first of all.

      September 9, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  2. Muneef

    Have said previously that the cracks took place at the National Cathedral by the earthquake were a sign that the country was religiously not right going...and now here again it proves that the sign is stronger...we will see if any thing else will happen to stop the anniversary to take place at it on the 911 !?! Well then it would be obvious the mistake you made by accusing Muslim community over 911...

    September 8, 2011 at 8:19 pm |

      Take a fricking physics course! There are no fearsome bearded spacemen causing these things!!!

      September 8, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • Muneef

      You do not see because you are blind black hearted and those see or feel nothing.

      September 9, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  3. derp

    Further proof that god hates cathedrals

    September 8, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Keith

      just the gay ones.

      September 8, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • derp

      And Texas

      September 8, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Say Wha?

      Gay Cathedrals?

      September 9, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • Peace2All


      "just the gay ones"



      September 9, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • pred

      I hate Texas. Does that make me God?

      September 9, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • derp

      "I hate Texas. Does that make me God?"

      No, but that comment makes you gay. So god hates you too, along with Texas and cathedrals.

      September 9, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity

      The Episcopal "church" is no church at all. It promotes gay marriage and gay clergy.

      September 9, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity

      " The Episcopal "church" is no church at all. It promotes gay marriage and gay clergy. "

      Ahh... I see now. God hates anything to do with gay people/clergy... ergo: destroys cathedral, etc... Got it.

      The bigotry, (most often) by the religious on this blog continues to baffle me to no end.

      Wow !


      September 10, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  4. Anton LaVey

    HAve you noticed that HeavenSent sounds like sound bites from cheesy movies where they show the clueless christian talking.

    September 8, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  5. Carla

    @TruthPrevails, Americans attack my religion, so I expose their problems. You don't need cathedrals because you don't worship God.

    September 8, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Car-ruh

      To be uncertain is to be uncomfortable, but to be certain is to be ridiculous.

      You seem VERY certain, my child.

      September 8, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      You're right I don't need cathedrals because I see a much more pleasant way to life. You live life praying for answer's; I live life searching for them. If something doesn't make sense to you, you pray. If something doesn't make sense to me, I research it and if it still doesn't make sense, I simply acknowledge that fact. I live each day as if it were my last and thus to the fullest. You live each day as if there is more to at the end.....kind of wasting and devaluing the one you have now. When a natural disaster occurs, you say it is b/c god is upset....for me it is simply the earth doing what the earth does, shifting and moving. When a person passes away, I grieve but am satisfied they are no longer suffering...for you, you believe all is well and you grieve but you believe you will see that person again. I accept that the planet I reside on is volatile due to the make-up, you believe it is volatile because evil people reside on it.
      Believing in something does not make it real and most of the adults I know have stopped believing in imaginary friends (we are just as productive and happy as someone who uses those imaginary friends to get them through the day).

      As for your opinion of America, you are not capable of convincing anyone that you are right especially when all you do is put the country down. You are a bigot....you pick on anyone and everyone who does not agree with you.

      September 8, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  6. Yoda

    be mindful of your feelings...see through you we can.

    September 8, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • Luke

      It's not that simple Master!!

      September 8, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Yoda

      ....and that....is why you failed...

      September 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Luke

      I'm sorry Master, I'll never be a great Jedi!

      September 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Obi Wan

      I foresee you will become a great pain in the ass.

      September 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Mad Cow

      May the Farce be with you!

      September 9, 2011 at 2:17 am |
  7. Carla

    The present-day West is not worthy to keep all those gorgeous cathedrals. Westerners should go to church on Sunday to worship God instead of making filthy money by showing church buildings.

    September 7, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Kyle


      god doesn't exist. So your point is moot.

      September 7, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Carla

      Kyle, you don't exist. Don't talk to me.

      September 8, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • doctore0

      Church = House of brainwashing; God(s) = human creations; Believers = Gullible

      September 8, 2011 at 6:05 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Carla: for someone who doesn't reside in the States you seem to think you have all the answers...go back to your hobble and stay out of affairs that have no concern to you. At least the USA is doing something worthy in this world-they are attempting to ensure that people like you don't rule the country and take them any further back into the bronze age of thinking. You really do need to educate yourself outside of the book of fairy tales. Once again when you stop attacking people, they will stop attacking you....you make it far too obvious of how stupid you really are

      September 8, 2011 at 8:20 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Non-believers = PATHETIC and Oh, so sad and miserable.


      September 8, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @HeavenSent: not at all...I am quite happy and content with my life and I do not need a deity to have that. The ones that are pathetic are the ones how fail to take responsibility or see where responsibility really lies in this world and instead pass it off to an unknown being. It is nothing more than a passing of the buck and a feel good measure!

      September 8, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • Larry Hairyscary

      Now Truth, don't try to confuse people like HeavenSent with reality. If religious people don't have their totally invented delusional fantasies like "The Invisible Man In The Sky" and "Atheists Are Angry", then they would have to deal with the real world as it actually is. They certainly are not ready for that.

      Just think of how devastating it would be for religious people to find out that their religion does not make people better or happier or more decent or more honest. Just think of the trauma they would suffer from finding out that things just happen according to rules of physics and some coincidence. Just think of their horror of finding out that people just stop when they die, nothing more, and all the divine punishment they so dearly love just does not happen.

      They are not ready for it.

      September 8, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Anton LaVey


      Non-believers = PATHETIC and Oh, so sad and miserable.

      HeavenSent = Self absorbed

      September 8, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Car-ruh

      Chinese Proverb says: To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.

      You must learn about the West from those who have been there, my child.

      September 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  8. Kyle

    Look at all these hate-filled christian comments.


    September 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Kyle, when you come into His truth you'll leave that carnal world permanently. Then, and only then, will you come alive.


      September 8, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  9. Reasonable Atheist

    The hurricane was brought forth to show the east coast that they've been bad! So... smashing the crane must mean good things for the church?

    September 7, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  10. Knock-knock

    Episcopalanians-Looks like God wants to talk to you? Any idea what it is about???

    September 7, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Noisy

      No Lord, it is noisy out there and I cannot hear you enough!

      –Epicopal child

      September 8, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  11. =============================Bo

    So long as nobody was hurt seriousl, little fun is OK like the crane had a falling out with the church.

    September 7, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  12. Answer


    "Atheists take note the bottom of the crain looks like a cross."

    If you take two fingers and place them on top of each other, and move them into a cross position. You'll see a cross.

    September 7, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • fred

      Atheists around the world were asking if there is no God why is this church still standing! Did God create a stone church so strong He could not tear it down? Atheists wanted to know if they roll a joint from the Herb cottage that now has a hole in the roof can they light it without being influenced by the holy smoke?

      September 7, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Answer


      Preaching your drivel always.

      Are you one of god's people? Are you really?

      September 7, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Kyle


      I don't even know what it is you just said.

      September 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > Atheists around the world were asking if there is no God why is this church still standing!

      The only atheists asking that are the stupid ones.

      > Did God create a stone church so strong He could not tear it down? Atheists wanted to know if they roll a joint from the Herb cottage that now has a hole in the roof can they light it without being influenced by the holy smoke?

      You should change your name to the rambling moron.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Peace2All


      I gotta' say, I'm not following you here.

      Care to elaborate...?



      September 8, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  13. Today

    CNN is running out of articles for Christian posts, it had to be the falling crane and now how is that related to the Belief blog????? Got it -the Church connection!!!

    September 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Being

      That is called 'Creative Journalism'.

      Create something out of nothingness!!.Kudos!

      September 7, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Charlie

      That is also called fair and balanced.

      Oopsy that crane out there is unbalanced???what does it say of the article bias?

      September 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Kyle

      So, then, what you're saying Being, is that all religion is creative journalism?


      September 7, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Lauren A.

      Why is this story categorized in the BELIEF blog on CNN?? I realize the Catholic church is hosting an event next week but come on. To the people commenting,making it a religious debate-shut up and get over yourselves.

      A 500 ton cranes do not 'collapse' simply because its raining. They do not collapse because the buildings that happen to surround them are churches.There are no specific explanations given to what actually caused the 'malfunction' but it reeks of negligence either on the construction site or to the company that engineered it.

      September 8, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  14. Please stand for our national anthem

    The crane fell over because the cathedral is for unbalanced people to gather and fart in unison.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Robear

      They don't fart in unison, believe me!

      September 7, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  15. Yet Crying Inside

    Laughing, has 7th grade Biology taught you nothing? It is physiologically impossible to cry stars or pee rainbows.

    Beautiful? It sure is, because for every comment you feed me, I get to have more fun!

    September 7, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  16. Alexander Christian

    A pretty mild sign of upcoming event...

    September 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  17. William Demuth

    Perhaps it is a message from Allah?

    September 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      Didn't they sing "Dancing Queen"? Gotta love the classics.

      September 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Anton LaVey

      I was thinking from Zues

      September 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • J.W

      Shiva is the destroyer. I blame him.

      September 7, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Juggling Squirrel-Jesus

      Everyone always underestimates the rodents. You'll all be sorry in the end.

      September 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Omo Lett

      A big crane like that must lay humongous eggs!

      September 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Anton LaVey



      Then why don't you enlighten us? Or do you not actually like to back up any of the insults you make?


      Actually no she never does...much like Adelina... One line little blerbs...generally saying the same thing. They are both so self absorbed they actually clueless how stupid/insane they come across. They have zero communication skills.

      September 8, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Timne to squirrel away the nuts for the winter. Beware, all ye non rodents, winter is almost here.

      September 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  18. J.W

    OMG why did they hire an atheist crane operator to work on the Cathedral. It is obvious that the crane operator was an atheist trying to cause destruction

    September 7, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Laughing

      you caught us, we're about ready to start tearing down all the churches around, one fallen crane at a time.

      September 7, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      An atheist would have been quite analytical and done nothing until it was proven that all was "good to go." I suspect it was a theist operating the crane on faith or according to the voice(s) in his head.

      September 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Laughing, you can tear down all the buildings you want (actually, Jesus already told us there will be no stone standing) you fools will never destroy Jesus and His wisdom. He is the Alpha and the Omega. Everything else is just a pebble in the sands of time. If any of you egos get over yourselves, you'll comprehend this Truth of His.


      September 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Laughing


      just keep giving me cranes and I'll just keep collapsing them onto churches and stuff, that seems to work

      September 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • J.W

      I have to agree with Heavensent Laughing. You will never get rid of my wisdom with any crane. Well unless you dropped it on my head.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Chico

      You haven't proved to anyone that you even have any wisdom in the first place!

      September 7, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • J.W

      Well Chico I think I have shown my wisdom on here. Maybe you just didn't grasp it.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Laughing, I know men that operate these cranes. They make more money in a month, then you'll see in your lifetime.

      September 7, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Kyle


      I just did a quick search, and as of today, these are the average annual salaries for crane operators:

      Crane Operator
      Overhead Crane Operator
      Warehouse Overhead Crane Operator

      Not exactly worth the effort of learning how to crank a few knobs. Those salaries are horrible.

      September 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Kyle, you haven't a clue, have you? There are more advanced operators than your mind came up with.


      September 8, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • Stevie7


      Then why don't you enlighten us? Or do you not actually like to back up any of the insults you make?


      September 8, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  19. MichelleBachmann

    Do you see NOW?!?!? God's message to DC, whatever that message is, couldn't be any clearer!

    September 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • God

      Listen to me DC politicans. If you don't do exactly as I say (If you are unsure what that is, just ask Michlle here) then I'll keep knocking over churches! I swear I will!

      September 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Jesus

      I'm going to take a big dump right in the cathedral!

      September 7, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • McJesus

      Methnks god prefers a Walmart in that locale rather than another cathral to house pedophile priests.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Too carnal. You non-believers may be called sunny, but none are too bright.

      So sad, so so so sad ... to be in the dark all the time.


      September 8, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • Stevie7

      Yes, HS, we are not nearly so wise as you who's every post is crammed with intelligence, reasoning, and thoughtfulness.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  20. Laughing


    September 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Yet Crying Inside

      Looks like 7th grade got out early today! Lucky you!

      September 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Laughing


      You're back! I missed you Crying, wherever did you go?

      September 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Yet Crying Inside

      Now now, laughing, no need to worry about the grown up issues. You missed me, eh? Sounds like somebody suffers from some self-indulged sadomasichism! Not to worry, you'll learn what that means in high school.

      September 7, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Laughing

      This can't be the same college student/ aerospace engineer I had the pleasure of trading barbs with the other day..... or maybe it is. I said this to your alter ego on the other thread, why do you hate fun?

      September 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • J.W

      Laughing and crying maybe you two will mellow each other out a little bit.

      September 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Laughing


      How unfair right? The minute I post first! Crying here comes out of the woodwork and I'm told I need to mellow out? At least on the "progressive christian" thread Crying's alterego called both of us out, but still. What is so terrible about posting first?

      My guess is, Yet Crying Inside had a tough childhood. He was never allowed to eat chocolate, watch movies, play video games, etc.... basically he wasn't allowed fun. Now, whenever he sees other people having fun his first instinct is to try and put a stop to it or twist it into something ugly.

      Or he might be a douch.ebag troll like so many others on this blog.

      Take your pick

      September 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • J.W

      I bet he is a goth and likes to torment himself.

      September 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Yet Crying Inside

      I pick.... fun! I'm having lots of it, and wishing people wouldn't waste space in the universe staking "firsts" like they're some sort of hound on a fire-hydrant.

      You see, Laughing, Jeh-doh here realized the error his ways, and is now denouncing his fellow child.

      I pick my handle in mockery of the name who says "first"–no alter ego, no ego at all... ;).

      September 7, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Yet Crying Inside

      Oh J... you had so much potential.... well, for a kid anyway. You middle schoolers sure get caught up in the sadism thing though. At first I found it humorous, now I find it.... concerning.

      September 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • fred

      Laughing you are disqualified, one must read the article before posting.
      In your haste you missed the part where it fell on the Herb cottage that sells plants and teas to believers. Now perhaps if would go to church after visiting the Herb cottage you too can join in our vision.

      September 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Yet Crying Inside

      Boy, oh boy, Fred, can you believe these guys? Not even reading the article, just giggling and burping the f-i-r-s-t keys all over the place!

      September 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Laughing


      but but but, I did! I did read the article , like twice, three times even. I missed the herb cottage part, then again I want you you're getting if you get to go to this herb garden and then have visions

      September 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • J.W

      Do you even know who I am? Im the coolest dude on the planet.

      September 7, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Laughing


      I bet Crying cries stars and pees rainbows. He's probably more of an emo than a goth

      everything is just so goddam.n fuc.king beautiful right?

      September 7, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Yet Crying Inside

      Laughing, has 7th grade Biology taught you nothing? It is physiologically impossible to cry stars or pee rainbows.

      Beautiful? It sure is, because for every comment you feed me, I get to have more fun!

      (Sheesh skipping pages sure means lots of accidental message posts! I sure hope nobody reads the comment and then comes down here to watch you embarras.s yourself! That would be humiliating!)

      September 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • J.W

      I think we figured out where the universe came from Laughing. God was peeing and crying.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Ned Tupee

      Is this where the urinals are located?

      September 7, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • fred

      You missed the Herb Cottage? A falling crane could not miss the Herb cottage but you did? Are you sure your not with the government and trying to cover up the break in at the Herb Cottage where Obamma was coming this weekend?
      Do you not find it strange that the front door was kicked in by a crane? What are those guys smokin

      September 7, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Yet Crying Inside

      Ned, I believe the metaphor I was going for was, a fire-hydrant. Urinal works too!

      September 7, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • fred

      Let’s see hurricane Irene hits the church, a 500 year old oak tree falls on the church , a crane falls on the Herb cottage inches from Father Simon all before Obama arrives. Hello doesn’t the secret service consult mediums anymore.

      Heathens take note the church was protected when Bush was president.

      Atheists take note the bottom of the crain looks like a cross. Memo to Laughing file lawsuit to have crain removed or atheist symbol of the atom placed on top of the Herb cottage.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Answer


      Take note: it still happened.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      if god is trying to destroy the place, or is trying to protect it, he's doing a piiss poor job in either case.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Anton LaVey


      if god is trying to destroy the place, or is trying to protect it, he's doing a piiss poor job in either case.

      Maybe he needs a new wand?

      September 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.