HEMINGFORD, Neb. (AP) — A 1,965-foot-high TV tower collapsed, killing two workers who were trying to strengthen the structure, which had been taller than the Empire State Building.
Three other workers were injured Tuesday, rescue officials said. The cause of the collapse was being investigated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Two of the workers were repairing the roof to a small transmission building at the base of the tower. The three others had been hired to strengthen the tower so it could be equipped for high-definition television transmission, according to the owner, Duhamel Broadcasting Enterprises of Rapid City, S.D.
"I happened to glance up and saw the tower toppling over. It looked like the center section kind of leaned out first and the top fell down", said Don Jespersen, a 46-year-old farmer who was working in his field about a half mile away.
Jerry Dishong, station manager for ABC affiliate KDUH in Scottsbluff, said there was no apparent reason for the collapse, citing clear and calm weather. After the accident, the station could only be viewed by cable subscribers.
Killed were Lawrence A. Sukalec, 59, of Valier, Ill., and Daniel E. Goff, 25, of Sesser, Ill. They were on the tower when it collapsed, according to the Box Butte County sheriff's office.
Three other workers were taken to a hospital in Alliance. Two were treated and released and the third was listed in good condition.
The tower, about 20 miles northwest of Alliance, had been the tallest structure in Nebraska and one of the world's highest. It was more than 500 feet taller than the Sears Tower in Chicago and 700 feet higher than the Empire State Building in New York City.
In 1998, eight skydivers from Utah were arrested for trespassing after jumping from the top of the tower. They left a black flag at its top to show they had made it to what they deemed their "holy grail."