Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

WV State News

February 3, 2014

Police ID 3 dead in collapse

CLARKSBURG (AP) — West Virginia State Police have released the names of two workers and a firefighter who were killed when two cellphone towers collapsed.

Lt. Michael Baylous on Sunday identified the workers as 32-year-old Kyle Kirkpatrick of Hulbert, Okla., and 27-year-old Terry Lee Richard Jr., of Bokoshe, Okla. He identified the firefighter as 28-year-old Michael Dale Garrett of Clarksburg, a member of the Nutter Fork Volunteer Fire Department.

Kirkpatrick and Richard were tethered to the 300-foot cellphone tower when it collapsed in Clarksburg, State Police Cpl. Mark Waggamon said. Garrett was killed when a smaller cellphone tower weakened by the collapse also fell.

Waggamon said three of the workers were more than 60 feet up on the tower. One of those workers was killed along with a co-worker who was about 20 feet up when the tower toppled.

Two other workers at the site were not injured.

Waggamon said the weight of the collapsed tower put stress on guide wires to the smaller tower.

The crew was doing maintenance to strengthen the tower’s support when the accident occurred, Waggamon said. He said the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate.The towers are owned by SBA Communications.

SBA Communications spokeswoman Lynne Hopkins says the company is saddened by the accident and is cooperating with investigators.

Steven Thompson, a member of the Summit Park Volunteer Fire Department, said about three dozen people from eight fire departments in the area responded. He said rescue personnel had to use four-wheel-drive and all-terrain vehicles because snow had made a mess of the gravel road leading to the site, which was on a ridge about 200 feet above a main road. He said the first crews still arrived 10 to 15 minutes after the call.

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