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Blaine business owner dies in a Missouri tower collapse

The scene where a television station tower collapsed is cordoned off in Fordland, Mo., on Thursday, April 19, 2018. Officials say a maintenance worker died when the Missouri television station tower collapsed and he became trapped under a tangle of metal and wires.
The scene where a television station tower collapsed is cordoned off in Fordland, Mo., on Thursday, April 19, 2018. Officials say a maintenance worker died when the Missouri television station tower collapsed and he became trapped under a tangle of metal and wires. The Springfield News-Leader

A Whatcom County man died after a TV tower collapsed in Missouri Thursday morning.

Steve J. Lemay, 56, of Blaine died in the collapse, according to KY 3 TV. Lemay owned and operated Steve Lemay LLC. since 2013, which specializes in working with broadcast and communications towers. Lemay had 25 years of experience in the tower industry, according to his website.

In those 25 years, Lemay served as the foreman at the Sutro Tower project in San Francisco in 2014. The company thought so highly of Lemay that his picture still hangs on the wall at their tower site, according to Ty McCullough, who worked with Lemay on the project.

McCullough said Lemay had deep faith in Christ that he "lived it more than he preached it." He also said Lemay took the time to care for his wife, who was dealing with health problems.

"I started in this industry in 1998 and to date he is the kindest man I have met in it," McCullough said. "He gave a hand up to anyone he could wherever he was at — from orphanages in India to his fellow workers. ... The people you'll find me talk like this about, I can count on one hand."

Lemay had a crew of six working with him Thursday in Missouri, three of which were injured in the collapse and were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The workers were all from Steve Lemay LLC, according to Andrea Mostyn, director of communications at Missouri State University.

Mostyn said the workers were making tower enforcement modifications, so the tower could meet Federal Communications Commission standards.

Missouri State University owns the tower used by Ozarks Public Television station KOZK.

"We are shocked and saddened by the news," said Suzanne Shaw, vice president for marketing and communications at MSU. "Our condolences go out to the victims and their families. We are also providing support and resources to the other team members affected."

Investigators say the workers were about 105 feet up when the tower crashed to the ground shortly before 10 a.m. near Fordland, Missouri. The tower is almost 2,000 feet tall.

Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are looking into the cause of the collapse and whether the company was following all OSHA standards, according to KY 3 TV. The investigation could take up to six months.

The National Weather Service also used the tower to broadcast weather radio updates. Regional stations are helping Ozarks Public Television restore service.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt
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