(Long Branch, NJ) – A man committed suicide yesterday by jumping to his death from a Long Branch radio tower, underscoring a hazard brought to light by the Federal government just last month.
The unidentified man – dubbed “Tower Man” by spectators – climbed the old Y107 tower, located in a blighted section of town, sometime before 6:30pm. Witnesses claimed the man was at the top of the 400-foot tower for at least an hour, “swinging” and yelling undecipherable comments.
“The crowd couldn’t tell what Tower Man was yelling,” said a local law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, “and they couldn’t tell if he was yelling at himself or to the crowds below. That’s what made what happened next even more disturbing.”
The crowd, presumably thinking they were being told off by Tower Man, started yelling back.
“We were yelling and cursing and chanting ‘Jump! Jump! Jump!’ at one point,” said an eyewitness and participant, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I don’t really know why I told him to jump. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.”
And jump he did. At 7:30pm, with a mix of screams and applause from the crowd below, Tower Man leapt from the top of the tower and, with a “thud,” went through a vacant building’s roof, coming to rest on the second floor.
Due to the dilapidated condition of the building, emergency personnel – consisting of 33 firefighters, three engines, a tower ladder, and a photographer – had to cut through the building’s walls to retrieve the victim’s remains, and didn’t leave the scene until 10:00pm. Additionally, the photographer was able to produce 27 8″×10″ color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.
The suicide has served as a vindication for the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which sounded the alarm bells just last month over a significant rise in communication tower fatalities.
As we said last month, these tall towers are killers,” said an OSHA spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Now, in this case, the guy wanted to die. But it doesn’t matter. His number gets added to the total, and it makes us look bad. Well, not as bad as someone who hit a roof from over 350 feet and plowed through to the second floor, but we sure don’t look good.”