updated 6/1/2006 8:45:23 AM ET 2006-06-01T12:45:23

Three men fell 1,100 feet from an Iowa Public Television tower to their deaths Wednesday, officials said.

The men — ages 57, 27 and 19 — were replacing strobe lights on the tower when they fell, according to the sheriff’s office and the station. They worked for Deters Tower Service, based in Grimes.

“We can only assume that the safety equipment failed,” Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker said.

The weather was clear and dry with minimal wind, Danker said.

A fourth member of the crew was working on the ground, operating a winch and hoisting up parts, said Bill Hayes, director for engineering at the station.

“They were up fairly high when something went wrong and all three members of the crew fell,” Hayes said. “We don’t know what the actual cause was.”

At Deters Tower Service, Noah Deters expressed grief over the deaths but declined to elaborate, saying only, “It’s my father.” Noah is the son of owner Leo Deters.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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