Live Truck Accident

September 4, 1997 discussion

From: Ray Meints September 4, 1997

Two reporter/photographers for WOI TV in Des Moines, Iowa have been hospitalized with injuries from an electrical accident. The incident happened shortly before their six o’clock news.

Apparently the two were setting up for a live shot, when the mast of their microwave truck came in contact with a power line. Video I saw from Des Moines showed the truck parked almost directly under the line. According to reports… the lines contained 13-hundred volts of electricity.

Reporter/Photographer David Bingham is listed in serious condition at Mercy Hospital.

Kimberly Arms was taken to Iowa Methodist Medical Center… her condition was not immediately known.

Here is the latest on those two Des Moines reporter/photographers injured Wednesday when they were electrocuted while setting up a “Live” shot for their six o’clock news.

One of two reporters is reported improving but the other is still listed in critical condition.

Submitted by: Don Schmith Chief Photographer WOI-TV
September 16, 1997

The news is very good for David Bingham. He has been upgraded to “good” condition. I visited him Saturday night and he is looking very good considering. He can move his arm and can touch all his fingers and his thumb together. He may have 100% movement by the time he completely heals. He is still foggy on details, but he may not have been the one to raise the mast. We at the station has assumed it was him because he had been driving and was the first to get shocked. The actual events are still unclear so we’ll have to wait for more facts to come in. Hopefully, Kim will be able to provide them.

Kim remains in critical condition, but shows small signs of improvement every day. I stopped by the family’s waiting room this afternoon, but no one was available at that time. I talked with Kim’s husband, Chad on Friday. He said Kim had undergone a four hour surgery on Thursday for her skin grafts. They were basically letting her recover all day Friday.

I again would like to thank those of you who have kept these two in your thoughts and I will continue to give updates when there are any changes.

Submitted by: Don Schmith Chief Photographer WOI-TV
September 19, 1997

Kim underwent an eight hour surgery on Tuesday. The doctors want her immobile while she recovers for the next ten days, so she will be heavily sedated. Prior to her surgery, she was still termed “semi conscious” but at one point tried to sit up, and when her family was leaving, she waved at them. These are very small actions, but they are very encouraging to all of us who are pulling for her.

Dave continues his twice daily whirlpool baths. I dropped off a VCR and some tapes on Wednesday, but he was sleeping, so I didn’t get to talk to him. His wife says he’s experiencing a little more pain now, but also adds it’s an indication of the healing process.

I probably won’t have any thing to update for at least the next 10 days, but if anything changes, I’ll let you know.

Submitted by: Don Schmith Chief Photographer WOI-TV
September 30, 1997

I have some great news to report. Kimberly Arms condition has been upgraded to fair. The nurses had her on her feet this morning and she was able to take a few steps. She was also able to wave to her mother in the waiting room.

As many of you know, Kim had been showing small improvements every day, but none of us at WOI were expecting this kind of news today. It was great for morale, believe me.

David Bingham continues his track to recovery. He underwent a 12 hour skin graft operation yesterday. He will be recovering the rest of the week. Last Monday, David was sick of hospital food and ordered out for pizza during the Monday night football game. He’s expected to be released within 7-10 days. Once he’s out, he’ll continue his treatment and physical therapy on an out-patient basis.

Submitted by: Don Schmith Chief Photographer WOI-TV
October 9, 1997

One of our reporters was lucky enough to get to see and talk to Kim on Monday. She can stand and walk on her own, but gets tired easily. She can talk, but her voice is very soft because she’s recovering from a tracheotomy.

I stopped by her hospital room tonight hoping to see her, but she was sleeping. I talked with her husband, her mom and her sister. They want everyone to know how well she’s doing. She is scheduled for more surgery tomorrow and will be recovering from that for the next couple of days.

I was recently made aware of some rumors out there about Kim possibly losing a leg, arm, or an eye. Thankfully, none of those things is true.

Nothing official on David Bingham’s release, yet. Last week, he was expected to be discharged from the hospital sometime this week. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything.

Submitted by: Don Schmith Chief Photographer WOI-TV
October 10, 1997

After 5 weeks in the hospital, David Bingham went home tonight (Friday, Oct. 10). I shot a brief interview with him in his room prior to his departure. He told us he and his family were glad to hear about Kimberly Arms’ progress. He also wanted to thank everyone for their cards, letters and prayers. He said he was amazed at the outpouring of support that he and his family received.

He doesn’t remember much about the accident. He recalls putting the story together that day prior to the live shot, but after that, he’s pretty fuzzy until being in the ambulance. At that point, David thought he had been in an car accident.

Tonight, when he walked out of the hospital, he was wearing the same shoes he was wearing when he got shocked with 13200 volts, although looking at the shoes you wouldn’t be able to tell. He thinks his shoes are either extremely lucky or very unlucky.

His right hand and forearm are bandaged up to the elbow. They removed a muscle from his back and put it on his arm to replace the damaged tissue. His left hand is slightly bandaged, but David says it’s not really necessary. He’s a little thinner and is now sporting a beard that wasn’t there prior to the accident.

David definitely wants to return to WOI as soon as possible, but he’ll be doing daily outpatient sessions in occupational therapy for quite a while.

As I told you in my last update, Kimberly Arms did undergo another surgery for skin grafts yesterday, Thursday, Oct. 9. She will spend the next few days recovering from that. Hopefully, it won’t be long before I can tell you that Kim is also leaving the hospital.

Another Live Truck Accident
Submitted by: Dave Wertheimer September 15, 1997

From AP

(Pittsburgh) — A Pittsburgh television reporter was sent to the hospital after receiving an electric shock while covering a story.

Electricity coursed through Shawn Yancy’s body after she touched a WTAE TV satellite truck with a boom sent up into high tension wires.

Police say Yancy was alert and talking when they arrived. She was taken to Mercy Hospital.

The news crew was in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Lawrenceville covering an armed robbery.

Electricity was shut down for a short time while work crews secured utility lines, but power is back to normal.

I spoke to Reg Bobonis this morning… the reporter received 2nd and 3rd degree burns to her hands, shoulders and legs; she is in the hospital and is expected to be fine; the photog who has a heart condition is not doing well; he is in the hospital being treated…
Dave Wertheimer

Live Truck Death
Submitted by: Ray Meints

Delta Democrat Times

A 24-year-old life ended abruptly Tuesday afternoon when a production manager for WABG-TV was electrocuted while trying to set up a live television shot outside Greenville City Hall.

About 4:30 p.m., Andrew Austin touched the metal side of the news station’s van, apparently unaware that its boom antenna was touching a 8,000-volt electrical wire. The van was parked on Shelby Street near the rear entrance of City Hall. Witnesses described seeing sparks, followed by a sudden burst of flame.

“Just like a flash,” said Lydia Clay, a Broadway Street resident who was paying her water bill at time. “He was falling to the ground, falling to the ground. I saw where his hands were burnt.”

“That’s why I tell my babies, do not mess with electricity,” the mother of three said.

Candy Lee, a Water Department employee, recalled that her 19-year-old cousin, who was outside, screamed “Call 911” when she saw the flames. Lee wiped away tears as she told how she and her coworkers were so shaken up by what they were seeing through the office window that they were unable to dial their telephones to call the police.

“Nobody could get their phones to work,” she said.

“There were little kids out here,” Lee added. “This is hard on adults, much less kids.”

After he saw the flames, WABG cameraman Chris Johnson ran into City Hall and screamed for help. A City Council meeting was in progress inside the building.

One of the first people to hear him was former Mayor Frank Self, who was in a hallway talking with Building and Grounds Division Chief Fred Criswell.

“(Fire Chief Elie Nelson) and I ran outside, and that was the scene,” Self said, gesturing toward the television van, where Austin’s body lay against a tire for at least an hour after the accident. By then, dozens of witnesses and onlookers with somber faces had clustered around. It was not clear how the boom got caught in the power line. Police Chief Marvin Minor said it was possible the wind blew it there. Power was out in surroundings blocks for about 15 minutes after the accident. Minor also immediately left the council chamber after Johnson burst in. But the council meeting did not stop. “We were told we needed to stay put, “said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Paul Philpot, who was in the meeting.

Later, as the council prepared to take a break at 5:45, Mayor Paul Artman announced that there had been a “tragic accident” outside. He asked Councilman Charles Turner to lead a prayer. Turner said a short prayer and ended, “Master, we need you. We can’t get on without you.”

Austin, a Starkville native, was a University of Southern Mississippi graduate. He had been with WABG since February 13. It was his first job out of college, according to the station’s general manager, John Rogers.

Both Johnson and another reporter covering the council meeting, Fredricka Stiffin, shook with sobs as they were led away from the scene. WABG cancelled its 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. broadcasts Tuesday and ran syndicated programs instead.

“People here are just absolutely crushed because he was a well-loved and respected employee and had a lot of potential,” Rogers said later from the station’s offices on Washington Avenue.

Austin was “somewhat quiet, but he was very anxious to learn and really wanted to know as much about the TV business as possible and applied himself toward that end very well,” he said.

In February, the station lost another technician to electrocution. The man had been working on a television tower in Sunflower County, Rogers said.

“He had been working alone, late at night,” Rogers said. “We don’t really know what happened.”
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