An Accident Report
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I am writing in response to your request for “additional information.” In block number 30 of the accident report form, I put “poor planning” as the cause for my accident. You said in your last letter that I should explain more fully. I trust that the following detail will be sufficient.
I am an amateur radio operator. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the top section of my new 80-foot antenna tower. When I completed my work, I discovered that I had, over the course of several trips up the tower, brought about 300 lbs. of tools and spare hardware. Rather than carry the now unneeded tools and materials down by hand, I decided to lower the items in a small barrel by using a pulley, which fortunately was attached to the pole at the tip of the tower. Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the top of the tower and loaded the tools and materials into the barrel. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 300 lbs. of tools.
You will note in block number 11 of the accident report form that I weigh 155 lbs. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40-foot level, I met the barrel coming down. This explains my fractured skull and broken clavicle.
Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly on the rope in spite of the pain. At about the same time however, the barrel hit the ground. The bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the tools, the barrel now weighed 20 pounds.
I refer you again to my weight in block number 11. As you might guess, I began a rapid descent down the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40-foot level, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles and the lacerations or my legs and lower body.
The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of tools, and fortunately only three vertebras were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the tools in pain, unable to stand, and watching the empty barrel 80 feet above me, I again lost my presence of mind.
I let go of the rope.