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Tower Climber Decapitated in Accident

Joel Metz, a 28-year-old father of four, became the latest tower technician to die on the job, early in the afternoon of July 2, in a horrific accident.

Metz, who worked for Fortune Wireless, Indianapolis, Indiana, was on a team of four that was replacing a boom at a tower site in Harrison County, Kentucky. The crew had removed one boom and was lifting up another boom, which weighed 1,800 pounds, onto the tower.

“[The new boom] got to within two feet of where it was supposed to be mounted when the crew heard a pop, which was possibly a failure of the rigging, and the boom fell to the ground and a cable decapitated and severed the arm of the man that was positioned below the boom,” Harrison County Sherriff Bruce Hampton told AGL Extra.

Metz’s body was then suspended in his safety harness near the top of the 240-foot tower, which is owned by Verizon Wireless. After roughly three hours, which included several unsuccessful attempts, Verizon Wireless gave Sheriff Hampton clearance to climb the tower and remove the body. The delay left the Sherriff frustrated.

“It was a tough, tough situation, because it was obvious that he was deceased,” Sheriff Hampton said. “We didn’t want to leave the poor guy hanging 240 feet in the air. We had team members in from Indianapolis asking to go up and get him, but I had to wait for Verizon to give me clearance to climb the tower.”

Sheriff Hampton summoned the Northern Kentucky Technical Rescue who brought down the body about five hours after the accident.