‘Worst Month of My Life': 1 Month After Deadly Crane Collapse, Residents Still Seeking Answers

A crane collpased into the Elan City Lights apartment complex on June 9

Tuesday marks one month since a crane collapse in Dallas killed one young woman and injured several apartment residents.

In the weeks since the construction crane toppled over during a storm, more than 500 displaced residents of Elan City Lights have tried to pick up the pieces and move on.

But it is a task that has proven impossible for many, they said, because of the lack of answers from their property management.

"This has been one of the most challenging times of my life," Jennifer Gonzalez said.

Ask just about any former resident of Elan City Lights on Live Oak Street and they will tell you the same thing.

"It's been terrible. It's honestly been the worst month of my life," Chelsea Villanueva said.

Many felt as stuck as the crane that came crashing down onto their homes, shattering lives and displacing hundreds of people who still do not know when they'll get their salvageable belongings back.

"My [renters] insurance won't pay for anything because technically my stuff is okay," Gonzalez said. "So that's where it's a bit frustrating because it's been a month and to live without anything, just the suitcase I was able to grab, it's pretty difficult."

Gonzalez said her car was still inside the parking garage located in the middle of the complex.

The garage sustained severe damage and partial collapse when the crane fell.

An unknown number of cars were crushed.

"My insurance stopped paying for my rental on Friday, so I had to go buy a new car. I work 40 miles away," Gonzalez said.

Residents said they were promised by management professional movers would walk into the heavily damaged building, pack up and move their belongings out.

"They're saying, 'Oh you’re going to get your things back,' but that's not for everybody," Villanueva said.

She said she was never allowed to enter her apartment to quickly grab things like some other residents were allowed to do.

"On my specific home they said they're going to demolish it, but nobody really knows and it looks like no one's really doing anything either," she said.

Villanueva said she could see boxes stacked up on her third floor balcony.

She had been getting ready to move out of Elan City Lights into her new home when the crane collapsed.

"All of the boxes were ready to go, just get a dolly, but I didn't get that opportunity," she said.

Her renters insurance paid for some of her losses, but she said she still didn't have basic items, like a can opener.

Worst of all, she said, she feared she would never recover priceless items handed down to her from her grandmother.

Both residents expressed frustration at the construction site next door, where the crane was being used to build a sister apartment complex also owned by Greystar property management.

Some of the construction work has resumed since the deadly collapse.

"They're already working on their sister building right next door. It's like they're prioritizing their building versus the residents and it's even more frustrating when they feel like our lives don't matter, leaving us in limbo. That's what they're doing to us," Gonzalez said.

Villanueva became emotional when she was asked what she saw when she looked at the damaged building.

"I see home. Still," she said. "All of my things are there so that is home."

The crane is owned by Bigge Crane and Rigging and had been leased to Greystar Development and Construction.

In a statement in late June, the company claimed "extreme local wind conditions caused this crane accident," and added that the crane operator stated he placed the crane "in the appropriate out-of-service-mode per the crane manufacturers requirements" the previous day.

The crane collapse claimed the life of 29-year-old Kiersten Smith and left several others hospitalized.

Generators were placed near the accident site and power was successfully restored to part of the building.

There are 184 units in what is considered a zone that was not directly impacted by the crane.

Those residents will likely get their belongings first.

However, apartment management did not have a timeline for when that will happen.

The majority of apartments are located in what are considered "impacted zones."

"Some of these areas will not be accessible until OSHA has completed their investigation and the crane has been removed," according to a letter sent to residents.

A spokesman for OSHA told NBC 5 their investigation is open and ongoing, adding that by law, OSHA has up to six months to complete its investigation.

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