​Tower Climber Falls, Dies After 200-Foot Fall

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May 4, 2013
Also: Dies, Electrocution, Falls, Seattle City Light, Seattle Fire Department, Tower Climber, Tower Climber Falls Dies

A tower climber falls after he dies from an apparent electrocution from 200-foot. Authorities suspect that the man touched a high-voltage power line and fell upon a platform where his body was recovered by a Seattle Fire Department team.

Firefighters found a cap and a cell phone next to the body but nothing to indicate why he climbed the tower early Friday, said department spokesman Kyle Moore.

There was no one at the scene who said they knew the man, Moore said. The King County medical examiner’s office took the body to determine his identification and cause of death.

“We don’t know why he climbed the tower,” said police spokesman Renee Witt. “There’s nothing to indicate it was something other than an accidental death from trespassing.”

The fire department initially received a report about 12:30 a.m. Friday of what appeared to be a transformer fire on the tower that carries 120,000-volt lines across the Lake Washington Ship Canal in the Fremont neighborhood.

It was followed by a report of witnesses seeing a flash of crackling sparks and a man falling.

Seattle City Light said it was too dangerous for firefighters to rush up the tower, Moore said. They called in a Snohomish County helicopter for assistance. It spotted the body on the platform with no signs of life.

City Light turned off the power through the lines so a fire department technical rescue team could climb up and recover the body from the platform about 150 feet off the ground. The body was lowered to the ground before 7 a.m. in a basket.

The utility switched electricity so only one customer was out of service during the recovery, said spokesman Peter Clarke.

It was the first such mishap Clarke could recall in his 13 years with the city utility. It would be possible for a “very determined” climber from the lattice of metal in one of the tower legs, he said.