I obtained the following in a telephone conversation with K6SOJ whose
property borders the site where W7IX was killed. Dave was present when Ray
Balch SK, the former owner, built his contest/DX station. Dave also
responded to the site shortly after the accident and has since spoken to the
property owner who was there at the time. The property is now owned by a
California Highway Patrol officer and it was from him that W7IX had
arrainged to buy the antenna he was removing at the time of the accident.
The tower (per info given to me and based upon my recollection having
visited there when Ray was still alive) ) was Rohn 45, nearly 200 ft tall
and guyed at 4 levels. The objective was to remove a long boom 4 element 40
meter monobander from the top of the tower. The gameplan was for W7IX
(working alone) to loosen the boom clamps and rotate the boom so that the
elements were vertical. Then he was going to remove the elements he could
reach from the tower and lower them to the ground. Next he was going to
rotate the boom clamp tp bring the director and then the reflector close
enough to the tower to remove them and lower them to the ground. Finally he
would remove the boom and lower it.
Prior to climbing he checked the tension on all of the guys. Each was
nearly max on the gauge. He climbed and was at the top. Somehow as he was
loosening the boom clamps and securing the boom to the tower with rope the
entire entire antenna got away from him and dropped vertically. When it hit
one of the upper level guy wires (remember this is a big and HEAVY antenna)
it snapped the guy. With one of the guys now gone the tower folded over at
the upper guy point. As the top portion of the tower dropped it struck
several of the lower guy points snapping guys which caused all but about 60
feet of the tower to rapidly accordian into the ground with W7IX belted to
what had been the top of the tower. Killed instantly according to the CHP
officer-property owner who was there.
This almost sounds like a boom to mast clamp failure or too many (or the
wrong) U clamps were removed in the process of re-positioning the antenna
for removal. Tragedy no matter what.
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