Some ENG truck accidents from 1985 to the present.

This list represents a small percentage of mast accidents by reasons of collision, mis-operation, rushed, trained or untrained operators. Some involve reporters who didn't think they needed to know any of the safety information important when being part of a live truck crew.
In fact, reporters have been the most seriously injured in some accidents.  ALL employees are part of "the crew" in a live truck and are required to have the knowledge and training for its operation.


These events are reported to us from readers from various stations and gathered from various news sources and public information files. Comments are welcomed to correct or verify information.

Dates with asterisks = approximate/unknown date.

1985 - Fatality - Bob Tierney, Bakersfield, CA. reportedly went back into van to get fire extinguisher twice after placing mast into power lines.
      (We are looking for more information on this accident, as well as contact info for Bob's parents. We won't forget him, and by remembering him, we will improve the way safety is addressed in the broadcast industry.) [email us with information about Bob Tierney]
1985 - Denver, CO operator suffered two leg amputations and extended medical care. Went back into van to lower mast "because you can get in trouble for screwing up your truck."
1985 - Two Lexington KY operators drive form live shot with mast extended turning truck on side, killing power in downtown Lexington.

1986
- Winston-Salem, NC truck's poorly maintained old mast is "launched," barely missing the operator when it fell. Op was taught to watch mast as it was elevating, and did, and also saw it fall to the ground where he was standing.
1986 - Louisville, KY operator raises mast into powerline, breaker opens before damage... operator drives away.
1986 - Burned hands, Cara Crosby, WCAU, Philadelphia, PA. Mast was raised into power lines.

1991
- (Oak Harbor, Washington)--Some residents thought they were under terrorist attack when the elevated antenna on a KIRO-TV truck snagged a power line, setting off a small explosion and fire.

1993
* - Top market op places mast into power lines after driving off with mast fully extended.
1993 - Lexington, KY truck/mast damage in driveaway incident with mast extended.

1994
- Fatality - "Al" Battle - Alexandria, VA. Placed mast into 19,900 volts, rushed set up, pressure from assignment desk. Accident videotaped.
1994 - Mast raised into 60kV line. Fore Department warns Lexington, KY operator.

1995
* - Major market Chief Photog in state he described as "sleepwalking" before incident drives away with mast extended, toppling mast. Nobody hurt.
1995 - Fellow nicknamed "Sparky" after his accident, placed mast into power line and totaled truck (burned) and received permanent minor injuries.
1995 - Double injury, WINK-TV Ft. Myers, FL, news crew severely injured and burned. One's injuries resulted in leg amputation. The other, severely burned.
1995 - Fatality - WBGG-FM technician Spencer Johnson killed when he raises mast of remote studio van into power lines before concert at bar.
1995 - Las Vegas ENG Op raises mast into powerlines while performing routine operational check in station parking lot.
1995 - Photographer drives in field with mast fully extended trying to find receiver.
1995* - Van in Chicago burns after mast elevated into 50,000 volt lines.
1995* - Numerous reports of masts being brought into contact with overhead obstructions and breaking off mast top devices and damaging mast structures.

1996
- WCSC technician, in his first week of employment, severely injured after he goes out with Chief Photog on live shot and CP raises mast into wires.
1996 - Engineering Supervisor from WCAU-TV contacts this website author to ask where he can get information regarding safety. His station pledged to have a safety campaign in 1986 after a mast/power line accident severely injured one of their employees, and he was apparently unaware of this accident. The station apparently forgot about it as well when they assigned him the task.
1996* - Las Vegas station operator places mast into power lines in station parking lot, was hurt.
1996* - Las Vegas van op is reported to have driven down Las Vegas Blvd. with mast fully extended and being broken upon contact with traffic light pole.

1997
- Fatality - Andrew Austin - Greenville, MS. Used rubber strap per station instructions to hold mast elevation lever as written in OSHA notes and final paper.
1997 - Serious burn injuries, small amputations, 2 victims, Kimberly Arms, Davis Bingham, Des Moines, IA. WOI-TV. Kim was severely affected, in coma over a month, has undergone more than 20 surgeries since, more treatment expected. Dave has reconstructed arm with limited use. Further future medical treatment anticipated for both. Had 7 words of warning in a company manual and undocumented hearsay training to educate them on mast safety. It was enough to hold up in court for reduction of fines and free up station from some "serious" citations.
1997 - Photographer from Lexington, KY station drives with mast fully extended into 7200 volt line. Mast ripped from truck.

1998*
- Reports of masts being "launched" as a result of over pressure, improper maintenance, own seal rings and braces. Nothing new to mast business, but many more had been documented by others at the time this report was submitted.
1998 - Beaumont, TX, KBMT ENG truck grounds power line and cuts off power to post office, hotel, restaurant and residences. Live shot never aired.
1998* - Pittsburgh, PA. Truck places mast up into centrally located pole with power lines converging from 3 different directions.
1998* - WTAE, Pittsburgh. Mast placed into power lines, reporter and photographer brought to hospital. Reporter burned, operator monitored for shock.

1999 - Fatality
- Geoff Fisher - BCTV, British Columbia, Canada. Sigalarm equipped vehicle, Sigalarm out of service and on maintenance bench long before incident. Fisher had passed maintenance department initiated and administered safety test 9 months before.
1999 - Mast elevated into power line at shopping mall while manufacturer is conducting tests on warning device. Minor injuries and slight damage to van.
1999 - Fatality - Michelle Lima, reporter for KSAT, San Antonio, TX, killed crossing street while packing up live shot. Crew parked across from power lines to avoid that hazard. Station cited for not having written night time work procedures and not providing reflective vests to avoid the hazards of darkness. Station fined $3000. Check stub received from TX-OSHA through freedom of information act materials stated: "Contribution."

2000
- Mast fall over damage. WMUR ENG van driven in Concord, NH, with mast elevated, hits traffic light pole and falls onto car. Driver not, or just slightly injured. Approx $40K damage estimated. Not known if driver sued station after. Story was front page newspaper news.
2000 - May 2nd - Alexandria, VA. 3-Person crew - WTTG van mast elevated into 115,000 volt line. 2 injured, 1 very lucky after she hopped out of truck after circuit breaker tripped, and right before it automatically reset.  OSHA citations, fines of about $8000 after abatement. Cameraman reportedly received 500 stitches in side of face after camera he was holding, wired to truck, exploded.
        May 22nd - Los Angeles, CA. 2-Person crew - KABC van mast elevated into power lines, injuring 3, one severely resulting in amputations, extended treatment. CAL-OSH fines amounted to close to $30,000. $25,000 for no training regarding overhead power lines.
        May 27th - Cedar Rapids, IA. 1-Person crew - KGAN tech elevates mast into very apparent overhead power lines grounding 115,000 volts through his feet. Hospitalization and amputations of toes so far, and a "divot" taken out of his head according to one report. IOSHA (Iowa's OSHA) didn't bother to investigate it.
2000 - Van tipped over as its driver reportedly ran a red light going to a possible drowning story.
2000 - WGAL van reportedly leaves school football game with antenna elevated, crew and employees told to hush it up.

2001 - Fatality (2)
NTSB report states Ruben Rivero at fault for helicopter crash which killed him and photog Rob Pierce after Rivero ascended so abruptly that the main rotor severed the tail of his craft. Rivero was heard to have said "Watch this..." shortly before the accident.
2001 - Summer. WSB van doing roadside live shot gets hit at high speed by drunk driver while crew is set. Crew "tossed" 20 ft away.
2001 - Summer. Portland, OR station crew saves another station's crew person by pounding on van as mast is raised through lower lines and towards power lines.
2001 - September. KWCH van crew escapes electrified van safely after doing everything right. They stayed cool, called for help, got it, followed escape instructions.

2002
- Feb- From Electronic Media: KTTV news van crashes in Los Angeles: A Fox-owned, KTTV, Los Angeles, news van flipped over and crashed just outside Electronic Media's Los Angeles offices Friday around noon. The truck was totaled as well as the equipment inside. [The engineer] who operated the truck, was taken to nearby Cedars Sinai Hospital, where he is expected to be kept overnight for observations. [He] had indicated that the truck's brakes may not have been working correctly, although the station said it regularly services the trucks. [KTTV General Manager] would not comment, except to say they are investigating the accident.
2002 - March - WAAY truck trapped on railroad tracks long enough to be hit by speeding train. Van damaged beyond repair. Crew handled situation well and escaped unharmed, and managed to get a lot of the equipment out of the vehicle before the hit.
2002 - Summer - Reports that 2 ENG truck ops are struck by lightning in 2 separate incidents in Texas and Tennessee.
2002 - Summer - Report that Albuquerque, NM operator drove vehicle into power lines while moving van with mast extended. Operator had been involved in a driving accident in an ENG truck earlier in the year. Operator's employment at station was reportedly terminated.
2002- August 5th - From a market source.....Word is KECI-TV, Missoula, MT wrecked their sat truck, driving off with the dish still up & struck a tree.
2002 - Summer - CTV British Columbia had an ENG Traffic accident. It involved one of their Microwave Trucks enroute to a live hit and two street racers speeding at a very high rate of speed. The speeding cars were heading towards the truck when one of them began to lose control of the car. The CTV driver went into avoidance mode and successfully avoided a head on collision. Unfortunately, the avoidance maneuver did not take into account a light standard, and wham!

2003
- KNBC van burned when covering California fires. Questions regarding being too close to the coverage area too long remain.
2003- Fatality - CHIN Radio van driver, Amarjit Dhanjal, one of the most experienced and dependable, based on published reports, drives under an overpass with mast extended. The mast, floor mounted behind the driver's seat, was knocked off its mounting and into the driver's seat, pushing the seat and driver through the windshield.
2003 - WEHT van backed up into flooded area on side of road, and was half-immersed into water. Reports stated van was a total loss.

2004
- January - Safety page author at New Year's celebration. TV crew has truck set up for live shot with mast extended through tree...Did they look first??
2004 - Feb - WTVD-11-ABC truck in Raleigh leaves scene with mast apparently frozen up...hits wires, van tipped, operator fired.
          Comments from B-Roll online bulletin board:   1) I talked with the operator / photographer. He says he was rushed to change locations, hit the "down" switch. cleaned up his gear, jumped in the truck and took off. But the mast had not come down, it was frozen up. He says he got no warning alarms. When he exited the parking lot, he hit an overhead cable tv line. The van basically did a wheelee then turned on its right side.  No serious injuries.   2) Someone DID get hurt. According to newsblues, the reporter suffered some cracked ribs. And the photog, LOST his job over it. I agree, WAKE UP CALL!! To hell with the desk, no one should rush when it comes to SAFELY running a livetruck. Whether his alarms were going off or not, he should have VISUALLY confirmed that the mast was indeed down or not. The blame falls no farther than the crew on scene. Lucky they weren't high tension lines, or the job would have been the least of his worries.  3) The most disturbing the to me is the photographer and reporter heard no warning alarms. The truck is equipped with a mast-pin interlock, an alarm should have sounded. That's why we have got to do daily walk-around inspections, we've got to work as a team with the reporters to make sure everything is set to go before we pull away. It really does take only seconds to look up, look around, and save your life. I know it's cliché, but safety IS a habit, and you've got to take the time to complete a routine every time you take a truck out of the parking lot.
2004 - Feb - Sat truck operator from WBNS-10-CBS involved in a serious accident on I-71 sending him to a local hospital with serious injuries.
          From NewsBlues, 2-26-04 -
Dispatch Broadcasting officials will not discuss the particulars of the accident, but insiders tell us  [the operator] was talking on his cell phone when he rear-ended a semi, then was struck from behind. The crash blocked northbound lanes of the Interstate for several hours. The satellite truck was destroyed.
2004 - Fatality - June 8 - KBTX-TV Photojournalist Matt Moore Killed in Accident. One report from the scene said he was outside the truck, cops told him over loud speakers not to move, he did, and apparently made contact with either the truck or nearby structure which was electrified.
2004 - Fatality - June 10 - KETV photographer Jeff Frolio, 45, was struck by a westbound car about 5 p.m. Thursday while crossing West Center Road near 222nd Street on Omaha. He was taken by helicopter to Creighton University Medical Center, where he died later that night. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office is investigating the crash. Initial reports indicated that speeding or alcohol were not factors. Investigators don't expect to issue a citation. The driver of the car in Thursday's accident, a 45-year-old Fremont woman, told investigators that she didn't see Frolio until after the accident. 
2004 - The same WBNS operator involved with the February Sat-truck accident was involved in another accident, this time driving away with mast raised. He was reportedly "looking for work" and in the midst of "personal problems" according to one source.
2004 - (from email) KSBW TV had a live truck "incident" in Gilroy. A news photographer with three months experience and no live truck safety training drove away from the live shot with the mast up. The mast contacted high voltage wires, the cameraman and reporter luckily managed to escape the truck without being electrocuted.
2004
- 8/30 from b-roll.net    (Same incident as above?) One of our most reliable but new photogs accidentally drove away with the mast up. He got about a 1/4 mile until he hit the power lines, sending 40k volts through the truck before snapping off the mast. the reporter suffered minor electrical burns on her hands and was sent to the hospital. Engineering says the truck won't be salvaged.  This happened on a friday so he hasn't been dealt with by management. Is definitely getting fired? Aren't there supposed to be safety features to prevent this? Could that be his saving grace?
2004 -
(From news reports.) 9-28 - A reporter and two cameramen from WSNS-Channel 44 were involved in a fatal collision in their news van. Cameraman Jorge Lara, who was treated for minor injuries, was expected back after being out for a week. Cameraman Carmen Capriola, who was driving the van and was more seriously injured, was thoght to have injuries that would keep him out longer. All three were heading south on Interstate 55 to Springfield to cover the shooting of a guard in the Capitol Sept. 20 when a tire on their van blew near Dwight, Ill. Capriola lost control of the 2002 Ford van, which crossed the median and struck another vehicle, killing an Oak Lawn minister, the Rev. Terry Allie, and his wife, Wendy Allie. The van then struck another car, injuring the driver, Mohammad Ali of Villa Park. The family of the minister filed suit in Chicago against Telemundo Television Group, claiming its driver caused the fatal accident. Investigators say the van driver lost control, crossed the median and hit two cars, including the one driven by the Rev. Allie. The lawsuit claims the driver, Carmen Capriola, was driving too fast and didn't alert the Allies before driving into their vehicle. Investigations are under way to determine the cause of the blowout. No citations were issued at the time of the reports.

2005
- 1/4 - 10:15 PM  
Live truck's mast snaps off....By: Capital News 9 web staff... An NBC affiliate in Syracuse made some news of its own. That's after the mast of a WSTM live truck came crashing down at a crime scene. Officials said the truck operator was moving the vehicle with the mast fully extended in the air. It started to wobble and the mast cracked off from the base, taking phone and cable line with it. No one was hurt, but some local cable customers were without service for some time.
2005 -  2/21 Accident involving ENG vehicle on I-90 in NY. Conflicting reports from two news sources, one showing a picture of the tipped over van without noticable damage to the rear. Readers can make their own conclusion from the reports.  
Report #1
    Accident snarls traffic on I-90 -
Updated: 2/21/2005 10:09 PM - By: Capital News 9 web staff.
.
Slippery conditions are to blame for an accident on I-90 that involved a Capital News 9 live truck, and backed up traffic for quite a while Monday evening.  Police said the truck skidded down the exit five ramp and careened into the center guardrail. The force of the impact caused the truck to turn onto its passenger side. A Geo Metro sedan then ran into the back of the van.  The Capital News 9 driver was not seriously hurt. No tickets were issued.
Report #2

Local news operations are notorious for inaccurately reporting news involving themselves.
    According to Capital News 9, slippery driving conditions in upstate New York caused the station live truck to slide down an exit ramp on I-90 near Albany, whack the center guard rail, and flop onto its side. A Geo Metro sedan, according to News 9, then ran into the back of the van, snarling rush hour traffic. Three passengers in the car were taken to Albany Medical Center and treated for minor cuts.  The live truck driver was not injured. No tickets were issued.  But an internal e-mail, obtained by NewsBlues, tells a different story, claiming the live truck was actually merging onto I-90, when it was cut off by a snow plow, causing the truck to whack the car on the passenger side. According to the e-mail, from a sister station chief photographer, the live truck rolled, and one of the passengers in the car was in "serious" condition. Frankly, we don't know who to believe, but a glimpse at the photo above shows the van is clearly NOT on an exit ramp and has no discernable rear damage. 
2005 -
WXKR Operator Shocked on the Job, story from WTVG -13 Toledo
VIDEO Intern shocked by high voltage
    Sylvania Township Police and Fire say an intern with WXKR was injured while trying to do a live radio broadcast from Yark Automotive on the Central strip. 18-year old Tyler Thomas was shocked when his radio truck became electrified by high voltage. It happened a little before 10 o'clock Saturday morning at Yark Subaru on the Central Avenue Strip.  We're told the victim was with WXKR 94.5 and was setting up for a routine live broadcast when the mast on the truck was raised and hit electrical wires creating a life threatening situation. Thomas is listed in fair condition at Toledo Hospital.

Cumulus (WXXR's owner) Press Release
    Toledo, OH The quick response of Sylvania Firefighters and EMT units aided a local WXKR Employee after receiving an accidental power line shock during a live broadcast at 9:45am Saturday Morning. Tyler Thomas,  the 18 year old WXKR radio Employee, was rushed to Toledo Hospital from the Broadcast site at a Sylvania Yark Auto Dealership at 6019 West Central Avenue.
    According to Sylvania Township Fire Lt. Mike Ramm, Mr. Thomas suffered an electrical shock when he touched the station's truck, whose antenna mast was touching a power line.
    Sylvania Township officers Bill Tollison and Sgt. Bob Hankenhof and Firefighters Lt. Ralph Deshelter and Tom Smeed were acknowledged by authorities at Toledo Hospital for their quick and efficient 911 response to the accident scene.
    Mr. Thomas is recovering at Toledo Hospital and was listed in fair condition as of Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m.
    In support of Tyler Thomas and his recovery, employees of WXKR, Star 105 and Cumulus Media ask you to please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

2005 - (From NewsBlues, 3-28) KOMU-8-NBC in Columbia, Mo., has one fewer news cruiser. Last week a young staffer (who is also a university student) ran the truck off the road and down an embankment near the airport. The unnamed driver was taken to a hospital, but his injuries were not serious. We suspect he'll be looking for another job soon.
2005 -
(Emailed from a wonderful safety friend.) Fri, 4/22/05, a (CBS) WDJT Ch 58 ENG truck leaving a live shot location atthe Waukesha Co courthouse (WI) didn't lower the mast completely. I'm not sure if it was lowered at all - but it was high enough to strike power lines that ran over the road. This caused the mast to break near the top of the truck, and fall off.  I didn't hear of any injuries, but did hear that the occupants of the truckdid get out rather quickly - luckily they weren't energized on the way out. Two other notes; the 3 main news stations in town are represented by a union, 58 had recently been involved in a long fight to unionize, but did not. Also, the other 3 stations had all held separate safety seminars withthe local power company, WE Energies, in the past month (including a videoof yours). Unfortunately Ch 58 did not hold any safety seminars that I know of.
2005 -  From NewsBlues: Wednesday, June 1, 2005. MAST FOXED UP  Power crews worked through the night and morning to restore electricity to 1,400 Indialantic residents (east of Orlando) after a freelance engineer drove away from the scene of a live shot with the microwave mast extended,snapping three power poles.The accident involving the WOFL-35-Fox live truck...the very same truck that collided with a turkey vulture (right) last month.... occurred about 11:03 p.m. Tuesday.By noon Wednesday, Florida Power & Light Co. had restored power to most area residents. Those on the scene tell us the 30 foot mast is blackened and snapped off  near the base. We're also told that this is the second live truck mishap for this particular freelancer, who recently crashed into an entrance gate atthe station near Lake Mary."The driver drove the truck and had the mast up for the live antenna," said Stan Knott, general manager of the Fox O&O. "I doubt he intentionally did it and I'm sure he feels bad about it. We're certainly sorry to see anybody's power knocked out."
2005 -  July 11th. Reports of TV trucks having antennas damaged by Hurricane Dennis. One live truck photographed on beach tipped over. Interesting intersection of time as many trucks were deployed to Florida to make NASA mandated July 12th deadline to cover Space Shuttle launch on July 13, and may have been assigned to "incidental" coverage in area strange to outsiders.
2005 - 8-3.  From Denver 9News web site: DOUGLAS COUNTY - A team accustomed to covering the news made news Wednesday afternoon, when their TV microwave truck was involved in an accident on southbound I-25 at Lincoln. The crew was headed to down to the grassfire burning south of Castle Rock when the accident happened. The top-heavy TV truck rolled over and collided with another vehicle. The two people in the TV truck and the person in the other vehicle were all taken to the hospital. Just one lane of traffic was getting by after the accident causing a backup on I-25 southbound that stretched about four miles.  The highway was cleared just after 4 p.m.

2006
- 1-28 - Radio station van driven from event with mast extended, operator/driver ok, talent injured. Small fire in van caused good reason to evacuate, and it was during the evacuation that it was thought the injuries occured by not clearing the van when hitting the ground. From the KSDK website:  St. Louis radio personality Paul Arca was injured Saturday afternoon when the KLOU-FM van he was riding in came into contact with overhead power lines outside the Embassy Suites Hotel in St. Charles. It happened after a remote broadcast from the Greater St. Louis Golf Show at the St. Charles Convention Center after someone failed to lower the broadcast mast on top of the van before driving off. Sources tell NewsChannel 5 a 22-year-old woman who works in promotions for parent company Clear Channel Communications was driving the van. The van was destroyed by fire. Officials at St. Joseph Health Center in St. Charles confirm 56-year-old Paul Arca was being evaluated. Late Saturday, they said he was in good condition.
2006 - 4-8 (via email, verified:) For the record...there was an ENG accident in Chicago last night.  CLTV, Chicago's Tribune-owned 24-hour cable news station, was covering the Chicago Cubs home opener.  The truck operator pulled away from the media parking lot with three sections still up on his mast.  He pulled down several wires, stopped, and the stepped on the gas hard, snagging one thick wire, sending the truck up on all but one tire.  The truck miraculously came back down on all four tires, snapping a pole and pulling even more wires down.  There aren't believed to be any injuries from this.
2006 -11-23 (from DCRTV.com). No Injuries In 9 News Truck Mishap - 11/23 - DCRTV hears that a Channel 9/WUSA technican failed to lower the 65-foot microwave mast as he drove away in a news remote truck. The mast hit the metal cross arm for a pair of traffic signals in Herndon Tuesday. The mast broke, but no one was injured. Luckily, the mast didn't strike power lines, which could have produced deadly consequences. The incident occurred at the intersection of Ferndale Avenue and Herndon Parkway, at the site of a fatal pedestrian hit-and-run, which 9 News was covering. Besides extensive damage to the truck, the traffic signal pole and cross arm had to be taken down and replaced by two temporary wooden poles with wire strung between them to carry the traffic signals. Herndon expects to bill Channel 9 for the repair work. According to a station source, several safety features which might have prevented the mishap were not installed or activated on the truck. No word on any disciplinary action against the WUSA employee.....


2010 - Atlanta truck involved in mast-up drive-away, hits 115kV lines. Crew stays in truck very wisely....road surface beneath truck is destroyed by force of event.  Rumors circulated stated that truck had many of its safety systems, that would have prevented this from happening, bypassed.

2011 - WESH truck had mast elevate or it was elevated while truck was being driven. While driving under a parallel overpass, the mast caught and the truck was guided into a listing position and frozen as such causing need for rescue personel to be summoned to scene.

Know about more? We'll list them. E-mail your story. Phone call or other method of verification may be required for authentication.