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Crane Brought In To Limit Tree Damage Blows Over, Cuts Home In Half

Rockland County Family Stunned By Impact As Machine Sliced Apart House

VALLEY COTTAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A crane collapse in high winds has sent homeowner scrambling. When the dust cleared, he saw his house had been cut through as if by a giant knife.

CBS 2’s Lou Young got a look inside the Rockland County “house divided” on Thursday.

Workers were still cleaning up from Wednesday’s storm at Mike Rocanelli’s home, a blue tarp covering the worst of the damage. The homeowner showed Young what the gaping wound to his roof looked like when it was fresh and also described feeling the impact.

“The whole house shook. I was about to run out. I thought it was going to come down, but then it stopped,” Rocanelli said.

Rocanelli said he followed the noise and saw the cloud of dust at the top of the stairs. He said he then saw a construction crane inside his house.

The crane was brought in by a tree removal company to avoid this very thing. It sliced off a section of the home, completely bisecting an upstairs bedroom, and wrecking a drum set a grown son left behind. The impact was said to be so intense it literally turned weight-bearing beams into toothpicks.

There’s no small irony as far as Rocanelli is concerned.

“We were taking the tree down for fear it was going to fall with a storm and knock the house down and instead the crane did it,” Rocanelli said.

The owner of the tree removal company said it was a perfect storm of sorts, knocking out the radios, fogging up the cab windows and wind kicking in right as the heaviest part of the tree was being lifted.

“A very hot, humid day, heavy rain some bad visibility and a lot of wind and it is what it is now,” said Jim O’Sullivan of O’Sullivan Tree Removal.

It was a close call, not just for the folks in the house, but also for the crane operator, who might’ve been killed if the big machine didn’t have the house to break its fall.

“Nobody got hurt and we’ve got insurance and we’re going to make this house better than it was before we arrived,” O’Sullivan said.

Just to show there are no hard feelings, the owner of the crane left with a complimentary bottle of wine from the owner of the home.

The crane hit far enough to one side that Rocanelli and his wife can continue living in the place while they fix the damage. That’s if they can stand the noise.

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