A huge TV tower several hundred feet taller than the new World Trade Freedom Tower in New York, collapsed today outside Springfield, Mo. The tragedy killed one worker and injured five others. Ozarks Public Television, KOZK-TV, confirms it is the station’s tower which is listed as the fourth tallest structure of any kind in the state. TV tower collapses are fairly rare across the nation.
“We are shocked and saddened by the news,” said Suzanne Shaw, vice president for marketing and communications at Missouri State University. “Our condolences go out to the victims and their families. We are also providing support and resources to the other team members affected.”
Firefighters say a crew of seven were working at the tower when it fell. Five suffered minor injuries. Emergency crews transported them to a Springfield hospital. The crew had been working about 105 feet up on the tower—or at about the height of a 10-story building
Regional stations are helping Ozarks Public Television to restore service in the aftermath of the tragedy.
According to Logan Rogersville Fire Protection District Chief Rob Talburt, five people were injured in the collapse of the nearly 2,000-foot tall tower.
The person killed was working on the ground. The five injured workers were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.
The Springfield News-Leader reported that the fatally injured worker was “trapped” in the collapse, but did not elaborate further.
Neighbor Lee Brown, who lives just down the road from the tower, said the noise of the tower collapsing was like a “car crash magnified by 500.” It took so long for the tower to fall that the noise continued for several seconds.
The tower may have had structural disrepair issues according to a document obtained by the News-Leader, the tower’s operators were seeking bids to perform $775,000 worth of structural repairs to the tower.
The area around Fordland, about 35 miles east of Springfield, is a prime location for TV towers. The peaks of the nearby Ozark Mountains are about 1,600 feet above sea level and 300 feet in elevation above Springfield, making it a desirable spot for broadcasters to reach a wide area.
Collapses are not new to the area, though they are rare across the nation. One such TV tower in the Fordland area was brought down by ice 17 years ago, according to a companion report in the News-Leader. Back in 2001, the tower collapsed on itself, as it had been designed to do. However, it did manage to tip slightly in its fall, knocking out power lines in the process. No one was injured in that incident, but the loss of power did inconvenience several nearby residents who found themselves without power for a few hours.