Updated below with remarks from photographer / live truck operator Leonard Raglin.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been investigating the near-tragic accident that destroyed a WSB live truck and sent a reporter and photographer to Grady hospital. Cox insiders say WSB is “trying to downplay” the incident out of embarrassment and fear that the station may face fines and / or damages. Aside from a piece on the station’s web site (and a brief mention on a newscast or two), the station has done no follow-ups on the story.
Truck operator / photog Leonard Raglin drove out of the parking lot at the Fulton County Jail following a live shot at noon Wednesday. He drove out without first stowing his telescoping microwave mast, extending some forty feet up. As he drove onto Rice Street, the mast hit some 115,000 volt transmission lines, creating an electrical explosion.
Reporter Tom Jones agreed to answer some e-mailed questions.
What was the shock / explosion like?
The explosion sounded like something out of Baghdad. It was horrific and rocked the van.
The investigation to which Jones diplomatically refers includes the discovery that the truck’s audible alarm had been disabled. In addition, a flashing light alarm had been been covered with duct tape, say Cox insiders. It’s believed the alarm had been disabled before Raglin and Jones used the vehicle that morning.
As discussed here previously, this isn’t unusual. I’ve worked in a truck whose mast alarm would sound whenever the truck hit a bump in the road, even though the mast was properly stowed. I’ve worked with a photog who’d learned how to disable the alarm by reaching under the dash with one hand while driving down the highway, and disconnecting a wire coupling.
WSB News Director Marian Pittman visited Jones and Raglin at Grady following the accident. She told a staff meeting the following morning that the employees were still in a mental state of shock hours later.
The accident traumatized the entire staff, we’re told. Pittman was tearful while leading the staff meeting, during which she implored employees to take no shortcuts, safety-wise.
Raglin is an experienced, talented and widely-respected veteran of the Atlanta market; if one were to create a list of folks capable of such an oversight, Raglin would be near the bottom of the list. His involvement proves that this could happen to anybody.
Late Friday, Raglin sent the following note to LAF.
This post now includes a correct photo of Raglin. Thanks to “murrow” for pointing out an earlier incorrect photo.