Walker, IA Television Tower Collapse, Oct 1973


Walker, Ia. (UPI) - A 2,000-foot television tower buckled half way up and collapsed Wednesday, killing five construction workers and injuring three others.
Witnesses said the tower, operated by KCRG-TV in nearby Cedar Rapids, snapped in half and then crumbled completely with a roar that could be heard one mile away. Newsmen at the scene said most of the wreckage was confined to an area 50 to 60 feet in diameter around the base of the tower, with only the top strewn into a field.
Three of the victims were Iowans, while the two others were from out of state.
The fatalities were identified by authorities as:
ELMER GREINER, 47, of Independence.
RICHARD TRUMAN LANE, 42, of Cedar Rapids.
RONNIE PARSONS, no age given, of Cedar Rapids.
THOMAS R. McGLAUN, 32, of Garland, N.C.
DEMSEY CLARK, no age given, of Mobile, Ala.
GREINER was employed by the Elm Park Plumbing and Heating Co. of Independence, which was working on a new building under construction at the base of the tower. GREINER was on the ground when the tower collapsed and was buried under the debris.
All four of the other victims were employed by the Gunnar-Olson Construction Co. of Port Washington, N.Y. Authorities said all these killed or injured were construction workers modifying the 1,962-foot tower for use by the Iowa Educational Broadcasting Network.
LANE, PARSONS, McGLAUN and CLARK were working about 500 feet up on the tower when the accident occurred. Witnesses said two bodies were thrown into a field, two were buried in the wreckage and the fifth was badly dismembered.
The injured included ALVIN PETERS, 43, of Independence, who suffered a broken arm and was listed in good condition at a Waterloo hospital.
A Hazleton man, MYRON LEHMAN, 38 - was treated at an Independence hospital for minor arm injuries and released. A third unidentified man reportedly was treated for shock.
Leo Halsch, a KCRG engineer on duty at the transmitter site when the tower collapsed, said the huge antenna came down with a roar that
"sounded like an earthquake." Halsch, who was working in a building below the tower, said he scrambled under a console when he heard the tower collapsing and escaped injury.
"It sounded like an earthquake and it all happened in 15 or 20 seconds," Halsch said. "It was unbelievable."
State Labor Commissioner Jerry Addy said personnel from his office would be at the accident site "as soon as possible." Addy said his office investigates all such accidents to determine if there were violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) standards.
Addy said his personnel would issue a report if OSHA standards were violated, and his office would take the necessary action if warranted. He said he could not comment on standards involving tower construction until the report is completed.
Addy said he was not aware of any previous fatal accidents from the collapse of a television tower in Iowa.
The collapsing tower flattened the roof of the engineering building at the foot of the tower, but KCRG officials said damage was not extensive.
Halsch said he thought four of the victims were 1,900 feet up on the tower and the fifth was standing at its base when it collapsed. One of the first newsmen at the scene said two bodies were thrown into a field, two were in the wreckage and the fifth was badly dismembered.
KCRG officials would not speculate on the cause and were making plans to resume broadcasting, which was knocked off the air when the tower collapsed. General Manager Ed Lasko, who called the accident a
"tragedy," said the station would try to operate from its old transmitter near Hiawatha but he was uncertain how much time would be involved.
The tower, the tallest in the state and one of the tallest in the country, is located on Iowa 150 about three miles west of Walker, which is 20 miles northeast of Cedar Rapids.

Ames Daily Tribune Iowa 1973-10-04