Woman sues railroad over crane collapse

A Snohomish woman who was injured last year when a 175,000- pound crane crashed on top of her pickup, trapping her for hours, is suing Union Pacific Railroad.

JoAnn Beffert, 34, was working at a Georgetown-area Union Pacific yard for one of the company's contractors on Feb. 16, 2001.

Another worker was driving a crane when one of its wheels struck a drain culvert, according to the lawsuit, causing it to topple.

It "squashed her pickup truck like an aluminum can" and pinned her legs under the dashboard, said her attorney, Bruce Clark.

It took firefighters 3 1/2 hours to free the woman from the mangled truck. Both of her legs were broken.

Yesterday, Beffert said it is often still painful to walk.

She and her husband, Nathan, filed their suit in King County Superior Court this week, seeking unspecified damages for pain and suffering, lost wages and more than $100,000 in medical bills.

Nathan Beffert remembers hearing that his wife had been in an accident, but nothing prepared him for seeing firefighters try to rescue her from the crushed metal.

"My instant thought was she was dead," he said. "I started to shake. Panic ran through my body."

A spokesman for Union Pacific declined to comment on the suit. Trial is set for August 2003.