Three Dead In AL Tower Collapse

An almost 30-year-old television tower owned by SpectraSite and leased by WAAY in Huntsville, AL, collapsed earlier this month, killing three men who were several hundred feet up strengthening it to handle a DTV antenna and transmission lines. Witnesses said the workers were tied to positions on the 985-foot tower and were unable to escape.

According to published reports, two were crushed in the tower's rubble and the third died at Huntsville Hospital. Police spokesman Wendell Johnson said the men had been hired to strengthen the tower on Monte Sano, a mountain overlooking Huntsville, and were not employees of WAAY.

The cause of the accident is under investigation by OSHA and might not be known for several months. According to the National Weather Service, the weather was calm at the time.

According to a statement released by Peter O'Brien, vice president/general manager of WAAY, the station is uniquely equipped with two full-power transmitters and two antennas. WAAY was able to immediately switch their broadcast signal over to their original tower and transmitter when their power was restored three hours after the accident on the main tower.

The three engineers who were killed in Huntsville are Bryan Burkhardt, 27, of Robstown, TX; Charles Pace, 35, of Tucson, AZ; and J.C. Dela Lama, 35, of Hollywood, FL.