Monday, March 10, 2014

West Virginia Tower Collapse Kills 3, Cripples Repeater Network

Two radio towers in north central West Virginia collapsed on February 1 while undergoing maintenance work, killing three people, injuring two others and taking three amateur radio repeaters off the air. The ARRL Letter reports that the workers were repairing structural supports on a 300-foot tower when the structure apparently gave way, taking down a second, shorter, tower as it fell. Two of the workers on the tower were killed, along with an emergency responder on the ground, who was hit by falling debris. Two other workers were hurt.

The collapse also destroyed the antennas for three amateur radio repeaters owned by the Stonewall Jackson Amateur Radio Association. The repeaters were part of the "HamTalk" linked repeater system, and were a major part of the North Central West Virginia emergency communications network, helping the Harrison County Office of Emergency Management, FEMA and the American Red Cross. The towers also held several commercial antennas. No word yet on when they will be rebuilt.