GTE Installer : Van Plunges Into Ravine; Driver Dies

Times Staff Writer

A Van Nuys man who drove to the top of a mountain in Angeles National Forest to make repairs at a communications facility was killed when his van plunged 2,000 feet into a ravine, authorities said Thursday.

Frank Fish, a 57-year-old General Telephone equipment installer and repairer, did not return Wednesday from a late afternoon repair run to a microwave facility on top of Mt. Lukens, north of La Canada Flintridge, officials said.

GTE reported him missing Thursday morning, and a Los Angeles County sheriff’s rescue team began a search of the rugged terrain, Sgt. Ernie Roop said.

The van and Fish’s body were found below Mt. Lukens Road at 10:50 a.m., about two hours after the search began.


Roop said it appeared that Fish was returning from his assignment when the van went off the dirt road about two miles from the unmanned GTE facility and plunged into the ravine.

The van went off the road at the 4,000-foot elevation, and officials reported that it was likely that that elevation was shrouded in fog late Wednesday.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating why the van went off the road. Fish’s body and the van could not be removed Thursday because weather conditions made it unsafe, CHP Officer Dave Padgett said. The removal is expected to take place today, weather permitting.

2,000-Foot Plunge


“It is more than 2,000 feet down off the road,” Padgett said. “It was too wet and miserable to attempt to bring the victim out. We will try again.”

GTE is also conducting an investigation of the accident, spokesman Larry Cox said.

He said Fish, a 19-year employee who had a wife and two sons, had been dispatched from GTE’s work yard in San Fernando to the Mt. Lukens facility to repair microwave circuits.

Although employees routinely call after completing an assignment, it was unclear whether Fish called in Wednesday, Cox said.

Cox did not know if workers routinely ask for or are provided weather reports before going to facilities at high altitudes, but he said GTE employees are instructed “to never do anything that is going to jeopardize their safety.”