Inspections under way after light pole topples at Grapevine stadium

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on August 27, 2012 at 10:24 PM

Mustang-Panther Stadium

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GRAPEVINE — It could have been catastrophic.

At noon Saturday, an 80-foot light pole broke from its concrete base and fell down, landing across a landscaped hill and barely clipping a stairwell and sidewalk.

The stadium was almost empty; a construction crew was working on the opposite side.

"We were very fortunate we're not dealing with a more serious situation at this point," said Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Director of Communications Megan Overman. "We didn't have any major events at that time. We're thankful for that."

"We're also fortunate it fell on the backside of the stadium and not into the stadium," she added.

The district decided to remove the remaining light towers after they were inspected.

"We saw enough there that made us uncomfortable and decided to remove all the other poles as a safety precaution," Overman said.

There was too much wind to take down the towers over the weekend, so workers welded them to give added support Saturday and Sunday.

On Monday, winds were calm enough for crews to begin removing the remaining lights. The process took all day.  At one point, workers had to stop traffic in order to maneuver around power lines.

"I am glad nobody was under there," said Lester Henderson, a maintenance worker at a nearby apartment complex who stopped to watch the delicate procedure.

Overman said the district would immediately inspect all similar light standards in the district. The poles at Mustang Panther Stadium were last inspected in 2010 when a nationwide recall was issued for poles manufactured by Fort Worth-based Whitco, which went bankrupt in 2006.

Overman said the district had not yet confirmed if the pole that failed or the others at the stadium were made by Whitco.

"We're still investigating that," she said, "but regardless, we had a faulty pole and we're not going to take any chances. We're taking all four down."

New lights or temporary lights are expected to be in place for the first varsity game at the stadium on September 6. Junior varsity games scheduled for this week have been moved to other locations.

Overman added the district was unsure who would be responsible for paying for the procedure.

"It's a safety issue, so it doesn't matter. We are going to take care of it," she said.

 E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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