A 29-year-old contractor for Global Windpower Services fell 50 to 60 feet inside the shaft of a wind turbine on Wednesday, breaking ribs and a leg, rescue officials said.
His fall was broken by a metal deck about 12 feet above the ground, according to Lt. Greg Goettsch, spokesman for the Abilene Fire Department. The man was conscious when rescuers arrived.
The accident happened off U.S. 277, about two and one-half miles south of Farm Road 89 on FPL Energy’s Horse Hollow wind farm.
The man, whose name was not released, was flown to a Lubbock hospital via helicopter, said Steve Stengel, spokesman for FPL Energy.
Investigators are looking into the cause of the accident, Stengel said. It was not immediately clear whether the man was wearing safety gear or what he was working on inside the turbine.
There is a ladder inside each wind turbine tower and a few decks placed intermittently throughout the structure, Stengel said.
Global Windpower Services is contracting with FPL Energy to work on the turbines, Stengel said.
The Elm Creek Community Association and Buffalo Gap volunteer fire departments, South Taylor County EMS, the Abilene Fire Department, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office and MetroCare responded to the scene of the accident, Goettsch said.
An off-duty Abilene firefighter, Derrick Sowell, and his father, Dana, both Buffalo Gap volunteer firefighters, assisted wind farm personnel in rescuing and removing the victim from the wind turbine shaft, according to Goettsch.
“We have had a little bit of training on the windmill towers,” Goettsch said. “With so many of them going up in this area, we really anticipated running on accidents out here more often than we have. We’ve really made very, very few runs on these windmill sites. They (wind farm companies) are extremely safety conscious.”
By Sarah Kleiner Varble
16 April 2008
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