MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 1, 2014

Two area men die in fall of cell tower

Men were working in W.Va. when one tower fell into another

Two area men were killed Saturday when they fell from a cellphone tower in West Virginia.

Kyle Dean Kirkpatrick, 32, of Hulbert and Terry Lee Richard Jr., 27, of Tahlequah were killed when they fell while working on a tower in Bridgeport, W.Va., said Richard’s father, Terry Lee Richard of Bokoshe.

“They called me about 12:30 today, our time,” Richard said. “They said it had just happened.”

Richard said he talked to the West Virginia State Police, who told him that it was a pretty day and the wind wasn’t blowing.

“They were replacing two braces,” Richard said. “I guess when they took the braces off, the one tower fell into another tower. That tower fell on a firefighter and killed him. Two other people were injured.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration had been called in to investigate, he said.

The business was owned by the Kirkpatrick family, and her son had been working with the company about 10 years, said Lori Shankle, Kirkpatrick’s mother.

Kirkpatrick, a 1999 graduate of Hulbert High School, leaves behind three children — sons Ben, 9, and Gage, 2, and a daughter, Khayden. Shankle said he was very close to them.

“They were very much Daddy’s babies,” she said. “He was a very, very sensitive caring, loving person.”

Shankle described her son as a “big teaser.”

“He loved to tease his brothers,” she said. “He loved little kids and his nieces and nephews.”

Kirkpatrick liked to fish and also loved riding motorcycles, his mother said.

“That was his stress release — he loved riding his stepdad’s Harley,” Shankle said.

In addition to his children and his mother, he leaves behind his father and stepmother, Dean and Tomi Kirkpatrick; sister, Kari Fine; brother, Trent Kirkpatrick; stepsisters Lacey Bangle, Whitley Rae and Rachel Westmoreland; stepbrothers Keith Shankle and Chance Shankle.

Terry Richard said his son graduated from Panama High School in 2004. He had performed the same kind of work for four years that he was doing Saturday.

He led an active, exciting life, Richard said.

“He liked to hunt, and he liked to fish,” Richard said. “He was just a country boy. T.J. was raised here on the farm.”

Terry Lee Richard Jr. also was an Eagle Scout.

“He won the rifle shoot out of 541 kids when he was Eagle Scout at Boy Scout camp,” the father said.

He also liked mountain climbing, something he did as an Eagle Scout.

“He loved to climb,” Richard said. “He loved jumping out of airplanes.”

His son’s personality was that of a friendly person.

“He was laid back and funny, just happy go lucky,” the elder Richard said. “He never met a stranger and always had a smile from ear to ear.”

T.J. and his father shared a passion.

“He loved race horses,” Richard said. “That was mine and his little thing — race horses.”

In addition to his father and stepmother, Kathy Richard, Terry Richard Jr. is survived by his mother, Betty Karl of Poteau; sister, Amie Wilson of Panama; and sister Tiffany Jorgenson of Shady Point; and stepsister Brittney Timms.

Reach Elizabeth Ridenour at (918) 684-2929 or eridenour@muskogeephoenix.com.

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