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Former Greenbush resident: A story about survival

This drawing by Michelle Ismil, 16-year-old granddaughter of Ray Ismil, shows the position of the concrete bucket filled with concrete that fell on Ray Ismil 48 years ago. (submitted photo)

Pictured are members of the Ray Ismil family. Left to right, back row: Donnie and John. Front row: Lorraine, Pam, and Ray.


The following article is written by former local resident Raymond Ismil, a 1960 graduate of Greenbush High School. The next to the oldest son of parents Emed and Signe Ismil, he has two brothers, Alex and Joe, and one sister, Marie.  The Ismil family resided in Huss Township east of Strathcona.
Thank you, Ray, for so willingly sharing your story.
He writes:
I, Ray Ismil, am writing in regard to a call I got from Mavis at the Greenbush Tribune.  She asked me if I could write an article on my construction accident that I had 48 years ago, on February 25, 1970, in Bloomington, Minn., at the Control Data Building.  This accident was so severe it is hard to write about it, but if it will do somebody else some good in their young lives, I’ll tell the complete story.
Where has time went?  Forty-eight years ago…
I was working for Kraus-Anderson Construction of Minneapolis/St. Paul.  My son John was six days old.  I was a labor foreman there and I was in charge of the concrete pouring concrete.  That day I was also a working foreman.  I was vibrating concrete in and around elevator shaft walls for a new building for Control Data Corporation.
We were up about four floors pouring concrete with a crane and a one and one-half yard bucket.  Another laborer and myself were vibrating the concrete in the walls.  The walls were about 16 feet long and 8 feet across.  The walls are formed up with 2×4 steel pans and there is a double set of  steel rebar rods 5/8 inches thick all around the inside of the walls we were pouring that day.  The rebar rods project out 16 inches above the walls so that they can be tied into the next set as we continue to go higher with the next set of walls.
The vibrator machine makes a lot of noise working between the rods and steel pans that form the walls.  I had a signal man just ahead of me standing on the scaffolding deck.  It was 2:30 in the afternoon.  The 49er went on a coffee break.  It was then that the oiler took over the operation of the crane.  He had only 10 minutes of experience running the crane.   He was very inexperienced with running the crane, nevertheless, he still brought the concrete bucket up full of concrete.
I was bent over the top of the rods that were extending up from the top of the wall.  The oiler brought the bucket up but instead of following the signals the signal man was giving him, he had stopped the crane right above me. The oiler couldn’t follow the signals because he did not know them. Instead of moving the crane boom over five feet from me, he pulled the wrong lever on the crane. The lever he pulled released the brake on the cable which was holding the concrete bucket up there. The bucket filled with concrete free fell on top of me hitting me over the back and driving my belly through the rebar rods. There was nothing I could do to get out of the way. It happened so fast. I was pinned under the bucket with the concrete that weighed 6,000 pounds until the 49er got in the crane and lifted it off of me. I never passed out.
To see Ray Ismil’s complete story, read the April 25 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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