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Palm Tree Trimmer Dies from Asphyxia When Crushed by Palm Fronds — California

California Case Report: 23CA001
Release Date: February 9, 2024


On February 13, 2023 a 39-year-old Hispanic tree trimmer (the victim) was trimming a palm tree in the front yard of a private residence. The victim and the landscape company owner who hired him were not certified tree workers. The victim climbed underneath the dead palm fronds and started cutting them from the tree. Instead of falling to the ground, the skirt of dead palm fronds directly above him broke loose and slid down the trunk, crushing and suffocating him.


  • Improper work practices (removing fronds from below)
  • Incorrect equipment to do the job safely
  • Homeowner hiring tree trimmers and supervisors that are not certified or licensed.


The California FACE (CA/FACE) investigator determined that, in order to prevent similar incidents, landscaping companies and self-employed tree trimmers should ensure that:

  • Palm tree trimming or removal is performed or supervised by workers trained and certified by organizations such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
  • Proper work procedures and equipment are used, such as using an aerial lift and cutting fronds from above.

Homeowners should:

  • Only hire tree trimmers and/or supervisors who are certified by organizations such as ISA, and have a tree service contractor’s license (in states where this is applicable).

Palm Tree Trimmer Dies from Asphyxia When Crushed by Palm Fronds — California [PDF – 1 MB]