Had a similar failure some years ago doing a service change working for EC here in So. Cal.
The cross piece holding the LINE side clips broke free while I was pulling the meter. The explosion shot the meter across the yard. Despite the fact that I was very stupidly not wearing proper PPE (just sunglasses and a t-shirt) all I got was a huge scare and ringing ears.
I climbed the ladder, cut the drop and removed that panel with a 20lb sledgehammer! The meter met the same fate. (Luckily for me, the POCO was going to upgrade the meter anyway. They laughed when I told them what happened.)
I'll be back with an edit of this post, to put up a link to a device designed to help safely pull and install meters. Don't touch that dial!
Edit: Here's the link to the product: http://www.rauckmanutility.com/products.htm
Click on either pic of "Meter Puller"
[This message has been edited by mxslick (edited 08-16-2005).]