KVUE-TV Satellite Truck Crew Trapped By Power Lines; No One Injured

Jun 2, 2006

AUSTIN, TX – A KVUE-TV news crew in the station’s satellite truck escaped a dangerous electrical situation unharmed late Friday afternoon while they were parked in nearby Pflugerville, TX, working on an unrelated news story.

A dump truck emptied a load of asphalt at a construction site and then pulled away from the scene without lowering the truck’s bed. The raised bed became entangled with several overhead power lines, pulling down a pole and transformer as the truck drove away. Witnesses say that’s when some of the live power lines landed across the top of KVUE-TV’s parked satellite truck.

Two members of a three-person KVUE-TV crew were trapped inside the vehicle for about an hour before the power was shut off and they could safely step outside, KVUE-TV News reported on their evening newscast. They were photojournalist Oscar A. Palomo (who started at KVUE-TV last week, just moving here from Las Vegas, NV), and reporter Michael Mendoza.

KVUE-TV's Todd Rogenthien said the satellite truck’s driver, Mike Adrian, who reacted quickly and warned his coworkers of the danger, was formerly KEYE-TV’s helicopter pilot here in Austin.

“Everyone is okay,” Rogenthien told News Photographer. Rogenthien is NPPA’s TV Quarterly Clip Contest national chairperson. “Apparently the satellite truck operator was getting out and walking down the metal steps of the truck when he heard a crash and saw the power lines hit the truck and the ground. He knew immediately to get away from the truck and warned the reporter and photographer to stay inside the truck.”

Rogenthien said, "We have a computer in the truck and the crews also carry laptops, so we have wireless Internet access 24/7 in the field. It's kind of cool." That's how Palomo wrote an account of what was going on and sent it to the outside world even while they were still trapped inside the satellite truck. Palomo posted this account to an online discussion board on B-Roll.net:

"Aparrently a work crew of some sort down in near Austin (Pfergerville) knocked down some power poles with its dump truck. Me and my reporter heard something hit the Sat truck. Luckily the force knocked open the door so we could see out and when I looked out, I saw power lines about 5 ft. from my face running towards the front cab to the ground.

"I looked to see if there was fire, but there wasn't ... I knew to stay inside unless told otherwise. Our sat op did a good job in keeping us updated and emergency crews got here soon.

"It definetly scared me for a second, but everything turned out alright. Keep safe guys and I am sure some vid will pop up somewhere on here soon."

Rogenthien says KVUE-TV’s satellite truck is satellite only, and it does not have an elevated mast.

The accident knocked out power to most of western Pflugerville, a community northeast of Austin, and utility crews were still working this evening to restore electricity.