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Golf Course Mechanic Died When Struck by Falling Ash Tree

Michigan Case Report: 09MI082


In the fall of 2009, a 53-year-old male golf course mechanic was struck by an 84-foot tall, 15-inch diameter dead ash tree he was felling. Tree in which limb was lodged The decedent and his coworker were in the process of removing eight dead ash trees on the course. The incident ash tree was assessed and damage noted approximately 36 feet above the ground. Additionally, one of the ash tree’s limbs was wedged in an adjacent tree to the north. The desired fall path was to the south. To fell the tree, the decedent made a 6¾-inch Humboldt-style notch on the south side of the tree approximately 32 inches from the base of the stump. The decedent made a downward diagonal back cut, at an approximate 45-degree angle and in approximately 6½ inches, into the north side of the tree. The decedent had retreated 24 feet to the west between a stand of trees after making his cuts. At some point in the process, the decedent made a horizontal cut from the south side of the tree into the existing hinge wood leaving approximately ¼-inch of hinge wood remaining. When the tree did not fall, the decedent returned to the tree to make further cuts and the tree began to fall. The decedent then retreated to the north. Instead of falling to the south, the tree began to fall to the north, in the direction of the decedent’s retreat. The tree in which the ash limb was wedged apparently placed excessive pressure on the ash tree’s damaged area causing the ash tree to snap at approximately the 35 foot mark. The top 48 feet of the ash tree fell at an east/west axis and the base of the tree fell to the north. The decedent had retreated approximately 27 feet from the ash tree when he was struck in the back by the falling tree. The decedent’s coworker contacted emergency response. Emergency response arrived and transported the decedent to a local hospital where he was declared dead.

Golf Course Mechanic Died When Struck by Falling Ash Tree [PDF 489 KB]