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Tree trimmer killed after he's trapped beneath palm fronds

September 22, 2012 |  1:39 pm

Image: Map shows where a tree trimmer was killed after being trapped underneath palm fronds in Hollywood. Credit: Google Maps
A professional tree trimmer working in Hollywood was killed Saturday after he was “physically trapped beneath massive palm fronds,” authorities said.

Emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene about 12:20 p.m. upon receiving a call about a tree trimmer who was trapped about 30 feet above the ground at 1412 North Martel Avenue near Sunset Boulevard, said Brian Humphrey, spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

When authorities arrived, they declared the unidentified man dead and began working to remove him from underneath the palm fronds and to bring him back down to the ground.

“Palm fronds like this have been known to weigh as much as half a ton,” Humphrey said, adding that the cause of death has not yet been determined. “In these scenarios, the tree trimmer can be crushed, asphyxiated or have their neck broken.”

While it may seem benign to passersby who look up and see tree trimmers working away, the job can actually be quite perilous. Palm trees' dead fronds often appear to be attached to the tree when they are actually attached to other fronds.

When the tree trimmer pulls the dead fronds loose, the whole group of fronds can collapse.

According to a Los Angeles Times article from 2006, “tree workers have a fatality rate three or four times that of police officers and firefighters,” according to John Ball, a South Dakota State University forestry professor. “Your odds of being killed in this industry are one in 3,000,” he said.

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Image: Map shows where a tree trimmer was killed after being trapped underneath palm fronds in Hollywood. Credit: Google Maps

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