An Injury in a Near Miss, Stephen Crabtree Tells his Story

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I have an official statement from John “JD” Ledcke of Pinpoint Services.

“The information provided by Curtis Walton in this interview is inaccurate, and your summary of the interview embellishes Curtis’s false comments. Your statement that there was no rescue gear available and that it was a “poorly prepared crew” is completely false. There was a complete rescue kit, including a descend rope, on site and offered to Stephen Crabtree at the time of the accident. Stephen’s statement in his interview that there was a rescue rope and that a rescue was immediately offered to him contradicts your statement that there was no gear at all. Additionally, both Stephen and Curtis had just successfully completed a three-day training session prior to this job. Stephen’s employment was not terminated the night of this incident, as Curtis alleged. Also, neither Curtis’ termination nor that of the job foreman were related to Stephen’s accident in any way. I will not violate our former employees’ privacy by recounting the true reasons for their terminations, but I ask that you not continue to publish statements that you know to be false. Further, Curtis’s allegation that he was stranded by his employer was not related to Pinpoint, and your story fails to make this clear. Both Mike Craven’s comments and the contradictions between Curtis and Stephen’s stories about the weather conditions and rescue equipment should have apprised you of the fact that their stories required further investigation or were not suitable for publication. You repeated false statements of these individuals and also made your own false statements that were not actually said by Curtis or Stephen. Pinpoint will not further publicly respond regarding this matter, due to the concern that you will not accurately summarize statements of the Company. Please correct the false, inflammatory statements against Pinpoint or simply remove these articles from your blog.”

I recently got a call from Steven Crabtree, who is injured in a tower accident who is now on disability. He was willing to talk about it, which I really appreciate. I have the full interview on my podcast, so for all the details go there. I did ask him questions and he answered in his word, not mine. Remember that we are only hearing one side of the story, and I don’t have anyone to confirm or deny what happened. As in most cases, most people cower and shy away from telling anyone outside of their circles anything for fear of being blacklisted in the industry. Most people are scared or there may be a lawsuit. Most companies just want this to go away.

We could learn from things like this! We could learn from near miss stories.  Well, here Stephen readily admits he was in over his head, but he did it anyway. He also wanted to learn from it, but instead his company put him on indefinite leave. While I don’t know their story, yet, they obviously want to protect themselves and they already have someone to blame. I would love to hear what Black and Veatch thinks. They had someone on site along with the crane operator and with Pinpoint.

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Remember, I am taking this at face value. I am reaching out to other contacts for verification. It seems that the crew he was working with was let go, according to Stephen. I have no verification on that.

To sum it up, he was injured on a tower where his shoulder and knee had damage. He climbed down without help only to pass out when he touched the ground. He then had an ordeal going through workman’s comp and the hospital thought he wasn’t hurt too back but he had to go to another hospital and now he needs surgery. He is getting workmen’s comp, but his company is putting him on permanent leave. All this because he was in over his head for this particular job. This all happened back in January 26th, 2016 from what he said.

What would you do?

So here is something to think about. When you listen to Mr. Crabtree talk then you realize he lays some the blame on himself for getting in over his head. He also mentions how the crane operator knew that there would be problem by just looking at the site, when he said you need a winch, not a crane. There were warning signal but yet he moved ahead anyway, the whole crew did. There was a competent rigger on site that said it could be done, yet he remained on the ground. Also, There was a Black and Veatch guy there as well for safety. All of these people, and now Mr. Crabtree is out of work living on disability.

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One thing that you hear in this interview is that he really loves climbing and he wants his reputation to remain intact. Unfortunately, after something like this, he may never climb again.

I would bet all of you will say it won’t happen to me, after all, you would know better. And yet, when I talk to Dr. Bridgette Hester of the Hubble Foundation, she tells me that her research shows almost all of you do stupid things, knowing it’s stupid, anyway. I know I have! I did too many things that I probably shouldn’t have. You know how I learned? I did them and came up with a better way to do them. I would ask older and more experienced climbers what they would do. I would reach out for help, even to the competition. They would laugh and get mad but in the end they would help because they didn’t want anyone to get hurt. Unfortunately most of those guys are starting to retire. Business isn’t exactly booming so why stick with it. We are losing our resources full of experience.

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Remember that I only have one side of the story, so there may be more. Stephen was also put on indefinite leave and no longer has insurance, so he is quite upset with Pinpoint. He will have a hard time getting by and chances are good he will lose his house. He does have a GoFundMe account, that you can donate to if you would like.

Stephen is having problems trying to get support for his doctor and is trying to work through the injury and move ahead. It’s hard when you can’t work. His hand has the shakes all the time.

He did reach out to Hubble Foundation for help, and they will help if he has proof of hardship. They did offer to work with him and they are vetting the story. Unfortunately many people have lied to the Hubble Foundation in the past for a quick buck, yes, there are dirt bags in this business. I will write about this people in another post.

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I think maybe we need to ask NATE to provide a resource, a hotline, where climbers could call for help! Maybe NATE could refer them to the proper ANSI document. I do remember at the FCC/OSHA safety workshop that Craig Lekutis of Wireless Estimator said that all climber should read TIA-222G, which I just opened in PDF form, all 262 pages of my copy. Have I read it? Not all of it, I use it more as a reference, shouldn’t we all. It may have helped in this situation, maybe the authorized rigger on site read it. Let’s look at page 114, where my older copy describes an “Authorized (Basic) climber”, and I quote, “an individual with the physical capabilities to climb who may or may not have previous climbing experience but has training in fall protection regulations, the equipment that applies to the field including instruction for their proper use; able to climb designated fixed access routes equipped with safety climb devices.” In all honesty Craig is right, it should be required reading, yet so few probably even know it exists.

You know what I wish? I wish we would learn from these near misses, I wish we would record them and report them, instead of brushing them under the rug. If you dare you can tell your near miss stories on a Facebook Group I created, for people who want to learn. You could email me at to tell me and keep it hush-hush. We need a way to learn from them. Don’t forget all of OSHA’s has a website to report complaints, found here, that you could let them know what’s going on.

We could change the industry for the better, instead, we choose to cover up the near miss incidents when we could learn so much. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Let’s make change! Let’s improve the industry by making a case book of these incidents and working to eliminate the hazards and the risks as much as we can. However, if we stay on this path we can hope for the best and continue see companies lay blame because it’s easier and it looks better to the insurance company when we just turn our backs on the people who work hard to grow the company. Will these companies continue to screw the little guy? Many companies will and they always will.

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  1. Yes I was I’m the greenhorn that was on site…I’m not interested in being on your show but, just know that his story is completely off and the reason the company turned their back on him is cause he filed a lawsuit against then within two weeks of the accident so they and I were informed not to communicate with Stephen. Also the crew was not fired I’m still here at pinpoint, he made a mistake on the tower and was in over his head and didn’t want to admit that to the forman on site. I’m just new towers I’ve been doing offshore work for years and his rigging was first mistakes at best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike,
      Thanks for letting me know. Can you tell me anything else? Did the crane operator really say they should have had a winch? Was the competent rigger on the ground? Do you think the stiff arm needed to be removed?


  2. Guess Stephen forgot he was sitting on the stiffarm when he released the last bolt….also the rigger on the ground told him “I’m not up there nor I have I been up there to see, so rig accordingly” also Stephen did not rig as was shown on the ground.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I was remiss in two facts I made on the march 20th comment….he was offered short term disability after the accident twice and Stephen denied it also the company did not turn their back on Stephen.


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