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One dead, another hurt after crane collapse at Butte des Morts bridge

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OSHKOSH -- One person was killed and another seriously hurt after a crane collapsed in Winnebago County Thursday, July 5th. The victim was identified as 35-year-old Joseph Bidler of Green Bay -- a driver for Spancrete. The injured person, whose name has not yet been released, was taken to Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah.

Spancrete officials say one of two cranes lifting a 52-ton beam onto the Lake Butte des Morts causeway north of Oshkosh collapsed around 9 a.m. At this point, officials are saying the death is "accidental" in nature. Bidler died at the scene.

Vinnie Meneghini works at Skipper Buds boat sales right on the lake. Around 9 a.m., he had a hint something was wrong.

"I saw the traffic going northbound backed up for about four hours, and I was getting phone call after phone call asking what happened, and we kid of figured out that a crane fell over," Meneghini said.

Meneghini took FOX6's Mike Lowe on a pontoon boat to survey the scene. The crane was collapsed on its side, the metal mangled, and a concrete beam was slouched into the water.

In a statement from Spancrete, officials say, "The thoughts and prayers of every employee at Spancrete are with Joseph’s family at this difficult time."

John Nagy, chairman of Spancrete, said, "Joseph is a part of our family. This tragic accident touches each and every one of us.”

Bidler had been with Spancrete for more than 11 years. Spancrete was responsible for making the beams, and Bidler was delivering them to the site.

"It's absolutely tragic. This project has been a big headache for a lot of the citizens, but completely worth it in the long run. Just sad to see that one of the workers had to sacrifice his life for this," Meneghini said.

Authorities closed down the left lanes in each direction of Highway 41 for about 45 minutes.

Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.