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2 Inspectors Fall to their Deaths

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

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Two transmission line inspectors in Texas have perished after the cable that suspended them from their hovering helicopter apparently struck the power line and snapped.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the deaths of David Edward Oliveira, 26, of Turlock, CA, and Christopher Geoffrey Breed, 27, of Moscow, ID, who were killed on the job Monday (Aug. 5) about 70 miles east of Odessa, TX.

Snapped cable

A broken tether lies near the site where the victims fell to their deaths. Authorities believe the tether snapped when it came in contact with power lines.

The men had been working on a new 230-foot-high transmission line for Wind Energy Transmission Texas (WETT) LLC, authorities said.

'Failure with the Tether'

Details of the accident were slim.

A Federal Aviation Adminstration spokesman told local CBS news affiliate KOSA that the helicopter had been able to land safely, but that the pilot had been taken to a local hospital for undisclosed reasons.


The Wind Energy Transmission Texas project includes the construction of hundreds of miles of transmission lines in West Texas.

Martin County Sheriff John Woodward II said the men were tethered to the helicopter working on power lines that transfer windmill energy, when the cord snapped.

“There was a failure with the tether, and two individuals were killed,” Woodward said. KOSA showed a frayed cord still attached to the helicopter after landing.

Power Line Inspection

The victims worked for Haverfield Aviation, of Gettysburg, PA, which bills itself as the leading provider of aerial power line inspection and construction support services in the United States. The company has inspected more than 210,000 structures worldwide, its website says.

A check of OSHA records dating back 10 years shows no citations for Haverfield Aviation.

Locals had been watching, and filming, the inspections for about a week, KOSA reported.

Haverfield Aviation

The victims (not pictured) worked for Haverfield Aviation, of Gettysburg, PA. The company is a leading provider of power line inspection services.

Haverfield Aviation did not immediately respond Tuesday (Aug. 6) to a request for comment, but Woodward said the company had flown to the victims' homes after the accident.

KOSA said the company called the victims highly skilled.

About the Project

The Wind Energy Transmission Texas project is a joint venture between New York-based Brookfiled Asset Management and Isolux Corsán Concesiones, S.A., a subsidiary of Isolux Corsan Group based in Madrid, Spain.

The project, approved in 2009, is building 409 miles of new 345 kV transmission lines around West Texas. Construction began in late 2011 and is scheduled for completion later his year, according to WETT's site.



Tagged categories: Fall protection; Fatalities; Inspection; OSHA; Transmission Towers; Wind Towers

Comment from WAN MOHAMAD NOR WAN ABDUL RAHMAN, (8/7/2013, 3:48 AM)

Condolences to the families involved.

Comment from Gregory Stoner, (8/12/2013, 9:25 AM)

I have seen videos of this. Very impressive but to scary for me. 210000 inspections with no citations. Amazing. I am a laws of average kind of guy and something was sure to happen. The thether breaking to me is not reasonable. I feel very sorry for the family. Check check and recheck.

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