Step away from the TV and no one gets hurt

Corvallis, Oregon

Mystery signal traced to TV

When Chris van Rossman moved into his downtown apartment about a year ago, his parents bought him a new 20-inch color TV with all the bells and whistles.

The flat-screen Toshiba came with its own set of stereo speakers, a 181-channel tuner, built-in VCR, DVD and CD players, a V-chip for parental control over content and, of course, a remote control…

Maybe the television suffered an identity crisis. Maybe it aspired to higher things.

Whatever the reason, van Rossman’s TV set sent out a cry for help. It began emitting the international distress signal on the night of Oct. 2.

The 121.5 MHz frequency signal was picked up by an orbiting search and rescue satellite, which informed the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

Such signals usually come from electronic locator transponders that help search and rescue workers find overturned boats or crashed airplanes. It is said that more than 90 percent of ELT signals are false alarms, but each and every one is checked out.

Langley got on the horn to the Civil Air Patrol, an all-volunteer auxiliary to the Air Force, and the CAP got ahold of Benton County Search and Rescue Deputy Mike Bamberger for assistance in locating the source of the signal. …

Armed with small receiving devices, Bamberger and a group of Civil Air Patrol volunteers determined the distress signal was coming from an apartment building on the corner of Fourth Street and Jackson Avenue, narrowing the possible sources down to a couple of upstairs units.

On the morning of Oct. 3, van Rossman opened his front door to find CAP personnel in Air Force uniforms, a Corvallis police officer and a Benton County Search and Rescue deputy looking at him expectantly. To his credit, he did not stress out.

“I have a pretty spotless record, so I wasn’t overly concerned

Every cloud has a silver lining
What's more dangerous than a knife fight in a phone booth?


  1. Editor October 19, 2004
  2. Sharp as a Marble October 19, 2004
  3. Bladebender October 20, 2004
  4. Jinx McHue October 20, 2004