Bakersfield, CA Television Antenna Collapses, Oct 1959



Tragedy struck at 10:45 a.m. today at the site of a television tower scheduled to beam programs from the ABC network over Channel 17 (KLYD).
Dead is BOB MUNS, 43, 1714 South 'M' St., who fell 390 feet to land on top of a car parked at the tower, two miles north of Bakersfield and east of the Woody Road.
MUNS was perched on top of a gin-pole which extended 27 feet above the 363-foot tower. His job was to guide a 3,000 pound, 50-foot antenna into a prepared slot at the top of the tower.
Also working for the Clark Steeplejack Co. of San Francisco, but standing on the top of the tower itself, were RALPH CLARK, 53, of San Francisco, and JOHN VAUGHN, 46, 17 Montrose St., Bakersfield. A cable stretched from a hoist truck at the base of the tower to the gin-pole.
The heavy antenna had been raised slowly to within eight inches of the slot, when its weight caused the gin-pole, a laced metal extension, to collapse. The antenna, valued at $18,000 crashed to the ground, shattering into a myriad of pieces, according to Ed Urner, general manager of KLYD radio and television broadcasting stations.
MUNS held on momentarily to the collapsed gin-pole but one of the 18 guy wires supporting the tower had been hit by the falling antenna. It snapped with a vibration that dislodged MUNS and the hapless man fell to his death.
CLARK and VAUGHN were powerless to aid MUNS and held on to the tower as it shook as if an earthquake threatened to topple it. They climbed down, horrified and shaken, a few minutes later.
The car, struck by the falling man, was a 1952 sedan, owned by VAUGHN and parked 60 feet south of the tower. The truck of the car crumpled under the impact and the rear window shattered.
Urner said the tragedy would delay the station broadcasting for another four to six weeks. He was watching the attempt to raise the antenna and a few seconds before the gin-pole collapsed he shouted to ask MUNS if the metal extension was going to hold.
MUNS and the other workers shouted their assurance that everything was all right.

Bakersfield Californian 1959-10-17