Sad News…and a Reminder

Sad news today from the ARRL website:

Three People Killed While Erecting Ham Antenna

At approximately 8:40 PM on Monday, October 12, a man, woman and their 15 year old son were killed while trying to erect a 50 foot vertical antenna at the home of the man’s mother, Barbara Tenn, KJ4KFF, in Palm Bay, Florida. The deceased were not licensed amateurs.

“It happened in an instant,” Palm Bay Fire Marshal Mike Couture said in a statement. “It is an unfortunate set of circumstances that led to the most tragic result.”

According to police reports, Melville Braham, 55, Anna Braham, 49, and their 15 year old son Anthony were putting up an antenna — Tenn’s second — at night when they lost control of the antenna and it crashed into nearby overhead power lines. The impact sent 13,000 volts of electricity through the pole the three were holding. A family friend, a 17 year old boy, was on the roof at the time of the accident. He and the couple’s daughter, who was in the house at the time, were not injured.

The mother was pronounced dead at the scene. When paramedics arrived, the father and son were not breathing; rescue crews immediately tried to resuscitate them. They were transported to a hospital where they later died.

Neighbor Jim Vallindingham told television station WFTV that he called 911 when he saw the fire in the back yard and then he ran over: “I had no idea it was electrical until we got over there and saw the three people laying on the ground. So I called 911 a second time to tell them there were casualties. You know, there were people on the ground. So [the 911 operator] told me that’s electric, you back away don’t touch anything.”

Couture said that night was not the best time to be attempting to put up an antenna. “It wasn’t the best time, meaning it was night time. Obviously, in darkness, and trying to do something like this and not being keenly aware of where the power line is in the backyard, [was not a good idea],” he said.

Neighbors said that Tenn, an ARRL member, used Amateur Radio to talk with her family in Jamaica. — Thanks to WFTV and Central Florida News 13 for the information



  1. Ken Pendarvis AD6KA says:

    So many questions! Why were they doing this at night? That’s just plain common sense that this should have been done during the day!
    Why were they erecting a mast so close to the power lines? (The base of a mast or tower should always be AT LEAST twice as far away from the lines as the mast is high). Why was a ham using non-hams to do this dangerous work? Why didn’t they have any safety guys? A 50 foot mast would have to be guyed at at least 3 levels anyway.

    This tragedy could have been so easily avoided.

  2. This is sad. How many other hams admit to having high tension lines behind their houses? I do. How do you handle it?

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