Complete coverage of Texas' record heat wave of 2011

Tower Worker Rescued 750-Feet Up

Thursday, Aug 4, 2011  |  Updated 6:43 PM CDT
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A communications tower worker Burleson was rescued from a height of more than 700 feet after apparently suffering heat exhaustion.

Chris Van Horne, NBCDFW.com

A communications tower worker Burleson was rescued from a height of more than 700 feet after apparently suffering heat exhaustion.

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Crews Work to Rescue Worker From Tower

A technician on a communications tower in Johnson County became overcome by the heat.
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A man trapped 750 feet in the air was finally rescued and brought to the ground after spending about 18 hours trapped on a communications tower in Johnson County.

Mike Howard, 25, a contractor for Tower Lighting of Texas, climbed up the tower on County Road 919 near Burleson at about 9 a.m. with three other workers and was supposed to come down at about 5 p.m.

While working on the 70-story tower Howard began cramping and found himself too weak to climb down.  Howard found a platform 750 feet in the air where he could lay down, and that's where stayed for hours drifting in and out of consciousness.

Another crew member climbed the tower to try to assist Howard, but was overcome by heat issues and had to end his ascent.

Lance Trout, chief of the Mid-North Johnson County Volunteer Fire Department, said they received a call for assistance at about 7:45 p.m.

Rescuers made contact with Howard, who was at that time conscious and alert, Trout said.

A crew of about 20 people conceived a plan to tie a rope to a harness and then use a pulley to lower him down through the middle of the tower -- which began just after 1 a.m. Thursday.

Crews climbed the tower and found that Howard, while still lying on the platform, had removed his safety gear because he felt claustrophobic. Complicating the issue further was Howard's stature he was said to be at least 6 feet 5 inches tall.

By 2:30 a.m., they had successfully brought Howard back down to the ground.  He was transported to Huguley Memorial Hospital in Burleson and is in stable condition.

All of the other men were checked out by medical personnel and were said to be OK, though taking the morning off.

American Tower, which owns the tower, said Howard is expected to make a full recovery and thanked the Burleson Fire Department for their response and work to rehydrate, stabilize and bring him down safely.

NBC 5's Kevin Cokely and Kim Fischer contributed to this report.

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