Three die in fall from tower
Three men plunged to their deaths Jan. 3 when a rope hoisting them up a tower broke.
The accident occurred just before 4 p.m. when the one-inch rope carrying the three men up the communications tower snapped, causing them to plummet 100 feet to their deaths.
The men and a foreman, Foster Barnes, 50, of Muskogee, Okla., were changing guylines on an Alltel tower located on County Road 409, about three miles northeast of Highway 284 near Forrest City, AR, and about 40 miles west of Memphis, Tenn. “The tower has been up for a substantial amount of time. They were just going back now and putting new guylines on and making the tower stronger around the base,” said St. Francis County Chief Investigator Glenn Ramsey.
Ramsey identified the three victims as Brian Barnes, 23, and John Seabolt, 26, both of Muskogee, Okla., and Jamie Anders, 27, of Hattiesburg, Miss.
The crew worked for All State Steel Erectors of Wagoner, Okla., according to David Bates, assistant area director with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Little Rock, Ark. Bates said OSHA investigators were enroute to the accident site where they would process the scene and review the equipment and tower.
“We’re still in the preliminary stages of our investigation,” Bates said. “We’ll make contact with the company. If during our investigation we find out any codes were violated, any OSHA codes, there is the possibility of citations.”
Ramsey said based on the information he received, the rope hoisting the three victims up the 250-foot tower was reportedly tied to the front of a pickup truck being backed up by Barnes.
“That is how they get them up there,” said Ramsey. “Then they were to get to their destination and attach their safety belts to the tower, but the rope broke at approximately 100 feet, and they fell.” He added that it is unknown at this point how far the men were going up before beginning work. “According to Mr. Barnes, it’s a standard operating method to use a rope for hoisting guys up the tower,” Ramsey added.
“We do have some regulations on fall protection and personnel hoists,” Bates said, but added his office would have to find out what occurred before commenting on which code would be applicable in this situation.
Ramsey said the sheriff’s office was notified of the accident by Baptist Memorial Hospital-Forrest City just before 4 p.m. Barnes had notified the hospital of the accident prior to that.
Ramsey said the bodies of the three men have been sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Little Rock, Ark., for autopsies, but said he feels the rope was the main factor in the accident. “I don’t think in this case, based on preliminary investigations, that an autopsy will find a cause of the accident, other than the rope breaking. I think we know the fall killed them, but are there other factors that we need to know? Ramsey said. “I’m sure they’ll (medical examiner) do a full autopsy which includes toxicology.”
No charges have been filed in the accident, according to Ramsey.
[Copyright 2002, Times-Herald, Forrest City, Ark. Reprinted with permission.]