Metro

Man atop South Boston crane falls to his death

A man plummeted to his death off a construction crane near a busy South Boston intersection late Thursday afternoon, police said.

Police received a call around 4:47 p.m. reporting a man on the crane threatening suicide, police spokesman Officer James Kenneally said Thursday evening.

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Crowds gathered nervously watching the crane near the corner of West Broadway and Dorchester Avenue.

Another police spokesman, David Estrada, confirmed the death around 8 p.m., but said it was unclear if the death was a suicide. He said the incident was an active and ongoing investigation. No further information was released about the man.

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Jason DeSena, a technician at the South Boston Animal Hospital, said he saw the man fall off the crane. He said the man was about three-quarters of the way up the structure when he grabbed a rope. It appeared as if he was going to use the rope to try to make his way to the ground, he said, but it looked like it snapped and the man fell, back first.

“It took my breath away,” said the 39-year-old Dorchester resident. “I can’t believe I saw that.”

The construction crane stood taller than a nearby nine-story building. Police shut down a stretch of Dorchester Avenue to through traffic during Thursday afternoon’s rush hour, but it was later reopened.

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Service on the Red Line was interrupted for a while but resumed, according to a tweet from the MBTA a little after 6 p.m. The incident occurred near Broadway station.

Steph Reeves, a 19-year-old barista at a nearby Starbucks on West Broadway, said she saw a crowd of onlookers gathered outside the coffee shop around 4:40 p.m. She went outside and saw a man walking around the top part of the crane. She said the man performed pull-ups and sit-ups on the top of the structure.

“Like it was a jungle gym,” she said.

She said she saw him sit and dangle his feet over the edge of the crane. His movements were casual, she said.

“I was surprised,” said Reeves, who lives in Allston. “I was shocked. Why is this guy doing that?”

Jon Parsons, owner of The Maiden on West Broadway, estimated the man was climbing around on the crane for about 45 minutes.

Leo Nolan, a 23-year-old bartender at nearby Worden Hall, said the man on the crane was shirtless and seemed troubled.

“It was a little out there,” said Nolan, a South Boston resident. “He definitely seemed disturbed.”

Jaclyn Reiss of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.
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