A 72-year-old ham radio operator fell to his death midday Thursday in Mount Lemmon, AZ, as he was adding a new antenna to a 50-foot amateur radio tower. Pima County Deputy Ryan Inglett told Inside Towers that there were “people on the ground and around, but it is unclear if any of them witnessed the fall.” Inglett said the man’s identity is being withheld until next of kin are notified. He added that it was also unknown where on the tower the man was when he fell.
ARRL.org, the website for the Amateur Radio Relay League, identified the victim as “well-known DXer and DXpeditioner Milt Jensen, N5IA, of Virden, NM.” The site said he was licensed as a radio operator in 1960, and had lived in Virden for his entire life. The site noted that in the upcoming July/August issue of NCJ, author Lee Finkel wrote Jensen, operated his “dream station” remotely from his home, often using the call sign N7GP in contests. In addition to his Top Band operation, Jensen was heavily involved in designing, installing, and maintaining VHF and UHF mountaintop repeaters, remotely controlled base stations, and linking systems. As a contester he often landed in the Top 10 standings.”
The fall is the fifth tower-related death of 2016.
“It was basically an accidental fall,” Inglett told the Tucson News. “It’s likely that the case will be turned over to the medical examiner.”
At an elevation of 9,159 feet, Mount Lemmon is the highest point of the Santa Catalina Mountains, and is located in the Coronado National Forest, about 42 miles northeast of Tucson.
The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) Executive Director Todd Schlekeway told Inside Towers NATE “offers our thoughts and prayers to the family, friends and colleagues whose lives have been impacted by the recent tragedies. NATE has established the non-profit Tower Family Foundation organization to provide financial assistance to families. More information on the resources and support available through the Tower Family Foundation can be found at the following website link: http://towerfamilyfoundation.org/.”