Colleagues Mourn Ernie Jones After Tower Death
Ernie Jones, PE, in an image from the CEI website.
This story contains updated information.
Broadcast industry veterans reacted with
dismay to news that Ernie Jones died in a tower elevator accident on an Oklahoma
broadcast tower late Wednesday.
Jones, 65, was a founder of the structural
firm Consolidated Engineering Inc. in Lynnville, Ind., which does
engineering analyses and tower renovations in broadcast and telecom. He is survived by his wife Kathy and four children.
His business partner and longtime friend David Davies of CEI told Radio World that Jones, died when the tower service elevator started back down while Jones was connected via lanyard to a member of the tower but was still in the cab. Jones was caught and pulled up to the elevator cab ceiling and asphyxiated before the elevator stopped from the tension. Davies said climbers hurried up the structure in hopes of rescue but to no avail. Davies said OSHA is investigating the accident.
The tower serves Hearst station KOCO(TV) in Oklahoma City. A KOCO executive did not return a call to RW.
CEI clients have included ERI, CBS, Clear Channel, American Tower and numerous
others. Its website said the company has coordinated fabrication of more than
Related: TIA Peers to Dedicate TIA-322 to Ernie Jones
responded across the industry as the word spread via social media and
second-hand email reports.
“Ernie was a giant figure in
the tower structural analysis community, one of the leaders in tower structure
standards-setting, and a first class fellow,” one wrote. Fellow
engineer Tom Osenkowsky told Radio World, “This is a tragic loss not only to
his family but to the tower industry. He was one of the great ones.” He said
Jones was to write three chapters in the next edition of the NAB Engineering
An email from SBE Chapter 43 stated,
“Ernie Jones was widely known in the broadcast
industry, having designed and overseen fabrication of over 3,000 towers from
240 to 2,000 feet in height.” SBE Chapter 16 Chairman Marty Hadfield forwarded
the note, adding, “Ernie was one of those special individuals, a PE that climbs
towers, who carried the ERI structural design, construction and installation
for antenna systems and towers right to the top of the stick. He always seemed
to be as comfortable roping a cow on the ranch, as he was in a design
meeting. Ernie will be very missed by his co-workers and to many in our
industry.” Jones is associated by many people with antenna company ERI and was a former employee; ERI referred questions about the accident to CEI, saying Jones was not a current employee or retained on an ERI project.
Dave Davies and Ernie Jones in a CEI
Jones, who held Professional Engineer certification,
was no stranger to towers or to their safety considerations. According to the CEI
website, he was active in standards work for steel antenna towers and support
structures. For 29 years he had been a participating member of the TR14.7
Committee of the Telecommunications Industry Association and Electronics
According to his bio, he was
responsible for developing the ANSI/TIA-1019, 2004 Gin Pole Standard and
was a co-chair of a technical section responsible for creating a full
construction standard on the installation, alteration and maintenance of
antenna supporting structures and antennas.
Ernie Jones is survived by his wife
Kathy Jones; daughters Karalyn, 26; Megan, 25; and Angel, 7, and his son Andy
Jones (27). He was preceded in death by his parents Raymond and June
Jones; his sister, Louis Jones; his first wife, Krista Jones; and his daughter
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