A contractor dismantling a radio tower near the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills fell more than 100 feet to his death and was killed Monday afternoon.
The Associated Press identified the victim as Dan Plants, 51, of Triadelphia, W.Va. Plants was a well-known tower climber who has done painting and other maintenance work for radio stations throughout the tri-state area for years. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office, county detectives and East Deer Township police are investigating.
The tower is one of two owned by WGBN (1150), licensed to nearby New Kensington. According to KDKA-TV (2) and WPXI-TV (11), a girl walking her dog near the tower saw Plants lying on the ground and ran home to call for help. East Deer Fire Chief Tim McGorty said Plants was wearing a safety harness, but it was unclear Monday night whether the belt was attached.
Plants was pronounced dead at the scene. A hook-and-ladder truck was needed to remove his equipment from the side of the tower.
WGBN was WKPA until 1993, when it was taken over by the Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood and became the region’s first full-time gospel music station. The church’s founder and senior pastor is Rev. Dr. Loran E. Mann, a former WPXI-TV anchor and reporter.
With 1 kW daytime power and 70 watts at night, WGBN broadcasts from a two-tower directional array. Mann told KDKA the tower from which Plants fell was damaged by a thunderstorm earlier this year and was being torn down. According to the Valley News Dispatch, the station is at reduced power until a replacement tower is erected.
The death is “very tragic,” Mann told KDKA, adding “our hearts go out to his family in this case.”
(Updated: 12:37 a.m. Tuesday)
(Updated: 8 a.m. Tuesday to add name, other details; write-through to clarify)