It was a freak accident when the palm frond blew off a concealed tower and sliced through the windshield of a moving car, but nevertheless the tower owners’ procedures for inspecting towers were brought into question.
The metal branch came off a tower in El Paso, Texas, owned by T-Mobile. After entering the car, it stopped just inches from the throat of the driver, showering him with glass.
“T-Mobile regrets that this accident occurred, and we offer our sincere apologies to the man whose car was hit by the palm frond. The palm frond that fell broke in the middle of the frond, not at the point of attachment to the primary structure – indicating damage resulting from severe winds, rather than site building techniques,” said Steven Caplan, senior manager, national external affairs and site compliance, T-Mobile.
The site was originally built in 2006 and then modified in 2007 at the request of the city. All new palm fronds were then installed in 2010. The current design was agreed to after T-Mobile held a community meeting, and after community members voted for the design, which was later approved by the City and built by a third-party manufacturer according to all city codes, according to T-Mobile.
In 2011, T-Mobile made mandatory site checks standard in El Paso, the carrier said, with all sites receiving detailed review every March, prior to the windy season.
“Out of an abundance of caution, T-Mobile is removing all fronds from this fabricated palm tree and will be inspecting all of them before re-attaching them to the structure. Again, we apologize for this unusual accident,” Caplan said.