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Man falls to death from tower near Rt. 128

By Dan Adams and Martin Finucane
Globe Correspondent | Globe Staff / October 13, 2011

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A worker plunged approximately 500 feet to his death yesterday afternoon from a Newton communications tower, authorities said.

The man fell from the old WHDH-TV tower on Chestnut Street, a landmark along Route 128. Authorities said he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The circumstances are under investigation by the State Police and the Middlesex district attorney’s office.

Jessica Pastore, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said he had been doing repairs. There were other repairmen on the 1,200-foot tower at the time, but none of them was injured.

Investigators from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration responded to the scene, she said, but the tragedy is believed to have been an accident and “there doesn’t appear to be anything suspicious or any criminality.’’

Matt Peterson - vice president of communications for American Tower Corp., which owns the structure - said the victim was a contractor installing a safety ladder and doing routine maintenance. The tower is active, with radio and television equipment on it, he said.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of one of our contractors,’’ he said in a statement. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and co-workers during this difficult time. We are working closely with the relevant authorities and cooperating fully with all inquiries into the cause of this tragic accident. We have suspended all work at this site pending a thorough review.’’

Pastore said the man who fell, at about 1 p.m., is believed to be from out of state. The district attorney’s office would not release his name because it appeared to be an accident, she said.

The tower at 1165 Chestnut St. is 1,253 feet tall, according to Federal Communications Commission records.