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Author Topic: Safety!!!  (Read 1839 times)

Posts: 22

« on: October 13, 2009, 07:21:09 AM »

Just a reminder about safety, brought to us by a man, his wife and their 15-year-old son, who were electrocuted in Florida when the ham tower they were raising touched a 13KV power line.,2933,564949,00.html?test=latestnews

Posts: 2


« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2009, 07:39:37 AM »

PALM BAY — Three people were electrocuted Monday night while attempting to erect a ham radio antenna in the back yard of an Alaska Avenue home.

Killed in the 8:40 p.m. accident were a man in his mid-50s, his wife and their 15-year-old son. The three did not live at the home; they were visiting the man’s mother, according to Palm Bay spokesperson Yvonne Martinez. Their 17-year-old daughter was in the house was not harmed.

The names of the victims were not released late Monday. Martinez would only say that they lived nearby.

Police reported getting a “frantic” 9-1-1 call at about 8:40 from nearby residents of a home in the 700 block of Alaska Avenue near Minton Road and Emerson Avenue.

Jim Vallandingham, who lives next door to the home where the accident happened, said he saw sparks and rushed out to his backyard. When he got closer he saw three people on the ground, and then called 9-1-1.

“The sky was a bright orange. It was like a sudden bright fire,” he said, adding that the 9-1-1 operator told him to stay away from the scene because of the live wires hanging nearby.

When rescue officials arrived at the scene, they found the three victims. Florida Power & Light officials turned off the power in the neighborhood so rescue officials could reach the victims. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene, Martinez said. The father was taken to Holmes Regional Medical Center and was pronounced dead. The 15-year-old boy was taken to Palm Bay Community Hospital where he later died.

Officials at the scene said the three were putting up a 50-foot-long ham radio antenna in the dark when they apparently lost control of the pole and it landed on overhead power lines, unleashing more than 13,000 volts of electricity.

“It is very tragic,” said Martinez. “When it happened, it happened in a matter of seconds.”

Power to about 3,500 FPL customers was out for more than three hours. Work crews were on the scene trying to restore it.

A nearby resident, Alvin McLaughlin, said he saw sparks flying from the back of the house. “They were all over the place.”

McLaughlin said a lady in her mid-70s lived in the house and her middle-aged son came to visit frequently. The woman was not harmed.

A 17-year-old friend of the family was on the roof helping with the antenna when the accident happened, said Palm Bay Fire Marshall Mike Couture.

“Based on the size and weight of the antenna, they just lost control of it and it slid onto the power line,” he said “This wasn’t something they should have been doing at night with little light.


It is a very sad story.  Please plan first for safety then do the work.

God Bless

Posts: 203

« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2009, 11:12:33 AM »

Yes, very, very sad.

I see that the story has made the American Wire Services; AP, UPI, etc so has gone national.

Perhaps this will raise some awareness of antenna safety issues near power lines and maybe save a life or two. Just trying to see something helpful out of this tragedy.

What were they thinking when they tried this?
I am anxious to learn more information as the story emerges.

So many lessons to be learned here.

Posts: 805

« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2009, 01:47:48 PM »

It only takes a moment of inattention or an instant of poor judgment, even with folks who know what they're doing and know the dangers. I seem to recall many years ago QST losing their safety column editor when he reached inside a transmitter or amp, I forget which.

Posts: 21760

« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2009, 07:45:56 PM »

Too late now, and we're all sorry this occurred.

But the "installers" of this 50' mast were taking on a task they didn't know anything about.

Pity, or they'd all still be with us.

This was not an "Act of God" or some weird circumstance.  Just amateurs who didn't know what they were doing, and paid the ultimate price for it.

Posts: 1757

« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2009, 01:47:43 PM »

The thing that bothers me the most about the coverage of this tragic incident is that reporters, quotes from police and firemen and others remarked that the problem was that they were working at night as if doing this in the daytime would have made it all better. Nothing could be further from the truth.

That antenna site selection was wrong no matter what time of day. This was not an error in what time of day they were working, it was an error in planning.

73 de N4CR, Phil

Never believe an atom. They make up everything.

Posts: 9749


« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2009, 04:34:35 AM »

It is always a major error for inexperienced people to work errecting a tall mast or tower at night. They can get hurt or killed a dozen ways. While they shouldn't have been installing a flimsy support within falling arc of the power line, they compounded a bad situation to almost certainly make it lethal.

I remember many years ago a CBer in Toledo Ohio  pulled a tower up into a 138 kV power line. That one killed people in the house, on the roof, and on the ground.

Sadly, people do dumb things all the time. A couple days ago my stepdaughter was in a bad wreck caused by a person texting while driving. It is sad to hear things like this, but there is no cure for stupid mistakes people will make.

Posts: 158

« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2009, 08:50:42 AM »

idiots, no other words to describe it.
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