3 dead after scaffolding collapses at Miami television tower

Victims contracted to upgrade transmission antenna for shared tower

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Three people are dead after scaffolding at a television tower collapsed Wednesday in Miami Gardens.

The tower, which transmits the signal for Local 10 and WSVN, is located at 501 NW 207th St.

Bodies of the three people were covered with tarps while still on the section of scaffolding that had collapsed.

"It sounded like the wind from the hurricane -- the cord ripping, and then when I heard the boom, I saw the debris fly up in the air and I immediately called 911," witness Eric Garner told Local 10 News. 

While it is not yet known what caused the collapse, frayed wires near the top of the 1,250 foot tower could be seen from Sky 10.

The victims were not employees of the television stations, but were a group from Tower King II out of Texas contracted to upgrade a transmission antenna for WSVN.

It is not known how high up the workers were on the tower when the scaffolding collapsed, but it is believed the men were near the top.

WPLG's assistant chief engineer Steve Ellis said the workers were removing gear at the top of the tower to install the transmission antenna for WSVN when the accident occurred.

"When they were removing this gear, bringing the second piece down, what they call the gin pole lifting device collapsed," Ellis said.

The tower was completed in 2009 and began digital transmission the same year.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration records, 13 people have died from television and cellular tower falls since October 2011.

OSHA is set to visit the site on Thursday.