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One Dead, One Injured in New Hampshire Ham Radio Tower Mishap




 
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Author Topic: One Dead, One Injured in New Hampshire Ham Radio Tower Mishap  (Read 901 times)
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Steve - K4HX
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« on: August 04, 2019, 03:13:37 PM »

Too many of these lately. From the ARRL Newsletter:

One Dead, One Injured in New Hampshire Ham Radio Tower Mishap

A tower dismantling turned tragic on Saturday, July 27, in Deerfield, New Hampshire, when two radio amateurs working some 40 feet up on the tower were carried to the ground when the structure collapsed. Joseph Areyzaga, K1JGA, 52, of Goffstown, New Hampshire, did not survive injuries sustained in the fall, while the tower's owner, Michael Rancourt, K1EEE, 65, was seriously injured and remains hospitalized. Rancourt was taking down the tower in preparation for selling his house, and the pair had nearly completed their work. They were tied into the tower and went down with it as it collapsed.

The tower, a tilt-over model said to be 40 to 50 feet, had been bolted to prevent it from tilting as it was being dismantled.

A law enforcement source said a number of people were at the site for a social gathering as the tower was being taken down, and they witnessed the tragedy.

No official determination has been made regarding the cause of the structural failure, but a radio amateur who visited the scene afterward observed that two of the tower's three legs were clearly compromised and split cleanly and the third leg bent, just above the fully intact tilt base.

The New Hampshire Amateur Radio tower-related fatality is the second such deadly incident in a little more than 6 weeks. In mid-June, a Pennsylvania radio amateur died when the tower he was installing collapsed as he was attempting to attach a guy line to the structure's bottom section.

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K1JJ
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2019, 07:07:53 PM »

Too bad... again.  What a tragedy.   Sounds like the classic mistake of not using temporary guywires. IE, a freestanding tower that snapped at the bottom where the biggest stress leverage is.

There is no doubt that taking down a tower is many times more risky than putting it up.  The same goes for taking down beam antennas.

There is something about releasing energy suddenly when taking things down. I had it happen to me in different forms.

Also, when taking things down, it is more of a mental PIA than when we had the excited enthusiasm putting it up. Thus, sometimes the lack of enthusiasm makes us cut corners to get the job done more quickly.  "Get it over with" mindset.

I have put up a lot of towers and have thought long and hard about it and yes, there IS an optimum tower psychology / attitude...  and strict process that needs to be followed to be safe. We need to recognize our mental and physical weaknesses in real time and work around them.

T
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Frank / WA1GFZ says when he's working near high voltage, as a warning he sings this song by Jay and the Americans: "Come a little bit closer, you're my kind of man, so big and so strong, come a little bit closer, I'm all alone and the night is so long."
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2019, 07:39:11 PM »

"...a number of people were at the site for a social gathering as the tower was being taken down..."

Bad idea. Only work crew should be present. Each person with a clearly defined role. The distraction of a "social gathering" creates only witnesses to a tragedy.


Don
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WBear2GCR
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2019, 11:56:42 PM »


...makes a good case for the "falling derrick" tower raising/lowering method.

There is an unbelievable video on Youtoobeee of a much >100ft tower being raised
in a big field. Shot off a drone.

Big advantage is that everyone is clear of the structure... of course things can still
go horribly wrong.

I wonder if the base of that tower was not rusted substantially...
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WA2SQQ
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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2019, 07:23:18 AM »

I heard more about this story. It was said to be 40 ft of Rohn tower with one section buried in concrete as the base. They suspect that no “pee gravel” was at the bottom of the concrete to provide drainage. Legs, over time filled with water until filling above ground. Multiple freezes may have split or weakened a leg an caused the failure.
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K1JJ
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2019, 12:02:56 PM »

I heard more about this story. It was said to be 40 ft of Rohan tower with one section buried in concrete as the base. They suspect that no “pee gravel” was at the bottom of the concrete to provide drainage. Legs, over time filled with water until filling above ground. Multiple freezes may have split or weakened a leg an caused the failure.

You may be right about that. Sounds logical.   The reason for using a pier pin and not putting the tower in solid concrete is because of stress. Also, no matter what kind of base is used, there needs to be a way for condensation or any water to flow out of the legs at the base.

It still comes down to using temporary guys when putting up or especially taking a tower down.  Even if the base is rusted, when a tower is supported by guys, there is very little lateral force on the base to swing it out.  Remove the guys and the bottom leverage is tremendous -  and even a brand new base can be broken when in concrete.   When using a pier pin, (the correct method) guys MUST be used at all times or the tower will simply fall over itself.   (Temp Guys are the answer to preventing many kinds of tower disasters)

Another point about ham-bone towers in concrete....  unless the tower can rock on a pier pin, the guy wires need to be in PERFECT alignment at all times or the stress on the base can be huge. A near impossible task.  A tower sitting loose on a pier pin solves this problem. Think about that before putting a tower base in solid concrete.  (This doesn't apply to free-standing towers without guys)

T
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Frank / WA1GFZ says when he's working near high voltage, as a warning he sings this song by Jay and the Americans: "Come a little bit closer, you're my kind of man, so big and so strong, come a little bit closer, I'm all alone and the night is so long."
WBear2GCR
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« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2019, 05:57:42 PM »

I was wondering about this...

...speculated on the air about the legs being held up mostly by paint (rusted internally).

Wonder if there are any pix of that tower base anywhere??
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w8khk
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« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2019, 10:53:42 PM »

Corrections / Clarifications...  From the ARRL Letter

Regarding the article, "One Dead, One Injured in New Hampshire Ham Radio Tower Mishap," which appeared in the August 1 edition of The ARRL Letter, Audra Wilder, KD3K, the niece of the Michael Rancourt, K1EEE, the owner of the collapsed tower who was seriously injured in the mishap, wishes to amend some aspects of our report. According to Wilder, (1) Rancourt had already sold his house; (2) the tower involved was a 40-footer and not a tilt-over design; (3) the gathering at the house was a work party, with four people on the ground and two on the tower, and Rancourt's wife looking on; (4) when Wilder was visiting Rancourt's for Field Day, no visible wear on the tower was obvious, and (5) Rancourt had climbed the tower 24 hours prior to its collapse.
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Rick / W8KHK  ex WB2HKX, WB4GNR
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« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2019, 05:34:55 AM »

Update: I visited Mike K1EEE at the Elliott Hospital in Manchester NH on Tuesday August 13th.  He is recovering from his injuries and he is in good spirits.  He says his house is sold and he and Valerie will be relocating to VA as planned after he has recovered.

We did not discuss details of the accident........

73,

MrMike
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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2019, 02:08:14 PM »

Kudos for the visit and glad he and his wife are moving forward.   

You can't go back but you can learn from your mistakes.

Joe-W3GMS 
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Simplicity is the Elegance of Design---W3GMS
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