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Workers Search For Third Body In Debris Of Collapsed Transmission Tower

June 3, 1988

COLONY, Mo. (AP) _ Workers using cutting torches, bulldozers and a dog resumed their search today for a workman missing since a 2,000-foot television tower collapsed in a heap, killing two other workers.

The three employees of Structural System Technology Inc. of McLean, Va., were working to reinforce the tower, described as one of the nation’s tallest, when it collapsed in calm weather Thursday, authorities said.

The first body was found clear of the wreckage immediately after the accident and the second was pulled out about 7 1/2 hours later, said Knox County Sheriff Harold Foreman. The search for the third man was centered in the area where the second body was discovered.

″Some of the material is solid steel - five inches in diameter,″ said Foreman, who added that investigators had no indication why the structure fell. ″It’s quite heavy.″

Workers searched until about 3 a.m., using a bloodhound, and were back at the scene at 9 a.m. An investigator for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration was at the site.

The tower, which belonged to KTVO-TV in Kirksville, was erected in September at a cost of $2.5 million. It was twice as tall as France’s Eiffel Tower, which is 984 feet high.

A fourth worker, crew foreman Rick Walton, was on the ground when the structure collapsed.

″I saw the whole tower coming down,″ said Walton, who was not injured. ″It sounded like the worst thunderstorm you ever heard only a hundred times worse.″

The structure did not strike any homes in the mainly rural area of Colony, about 200 miles northwest of St. Louis.

Jerry Heilman, KTVO’s general manager, said the workers had been replacing structural braces at about the 500-foot level. He said the station hopes to be back on the air by Saturday or Sunday using its old transmission tower in Lancaster.

Heilman said he could not comment on why the tower, less than a year old, might have needed reinforcement.

The tower’s height, the maximum permitted under Federal Aviation Administration rules, increased KTVO’s potential audience from 40,000 households to about 120,000, said Kurt Sweeney, the station’s news director.

A 1,909-foot television tower near Coweta, Okla., collapsed during a severe ice storm Dec. 26. No one was hurt in that collapse, which engineers said was caused by 500,000 pounds of ice on the tower.

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