Chipped man

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by sheshovel, Dec 31, 2005.

  1. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    Sad this still happens to the best of and remember!

    Investigators screen off an area at the Loveland home where Wednesday's fatal accident involving a tree shredder occurred. (Post / John Epperson)

    Chad Swank was standing in the basket of a cherry-picker truck Wednesday afternoon, using a chain saw to trim branches from a large, dead tree at a house in Loveland.

    His boss and longtime tree- trimming partner, Brian Ganiard Morse, was on the ground, feeding the branches into a wood chipper. It was nothing out of the ordinary for the pair, who were both certified tree trimmers and had worked on jobs together off and on for about six years.

    Swank started to cut a branch, and, per his usual habit, looked down to make sure the area underneath was clear. That's when he noticed something was wrong.

    He saw Morse lying on the hopper of the chipper. Puzzled, Swank said, he thought that Morse must have turned the chipper off and been working on the machine. Swank shut off his saw to check.

    But the chipper was still running at full speed. And Morse, his legs motionless, was slowly being pulled into it.

    "So many things go through your mind at that point," Swank said.

    Frantic, Swank swung one leg out of the basket, then the other until he was hanging from the basket. He let go and fell about 15 to 20 feet.

    He sprinted to the chipper, but he knew there was nothing he could do.

    "It's one of those things I'm still kind of numb to," Swank said Thursday. "I don't know how to feel quite yet. ... It's one of those things where you don't believe what is happening is happening."

    On Thursday, Morse's family and friends, fellow arborists and authorities tried to better understand an accident that has attracted so much attention for its pure shock value.

    The Larimer County coroner's office conducted an autopsy, and, using fingerprints, they officially identified Morse, the 54-year-old owner of Brian's Tree Trimming and Removal Service in Loveland, as the victim.

    Following the autopsy, the coroner's office released a statement saying the victim was pulled entirely through the chipper. "Total morselization" is how the statement put it.

    Since there were no witnesses to the start of the accident, investigators are speculating that Morse got a glove caught in the chipper and couldn't get free.

    "What took place before the glove got caught is what we're still trying to look into," said Dean Beers, an investigator with the coroner's office.

    Beers said the chipper had a handle that, when activated, would reverse the movement of the chipper's feeder gears. It is unclear whether Morse could have reached the handle when the accident occurred.

    Swank, as well as the owner of another tree service in Loveland, said Morse was exceptionally careful.

    "He was a very good Christian man who always emphasized safety," Swank said. "It was an accident. We don't call them intentionals."

    Even in an exceptionally perilous job such as tree trimming, the dangers of the wood chipper stand out, said Roy Barnhart, who owns Roy's Tree Service in Loveland and who knew Morse. The chipper in this accident, a Vermeer BC1250A, has the capacity to shred trees up to a foot in diameter, according to its manufacturer. It would probably take only a few seconds for the chipper's blades to turn such a tree into mulch, Barnhart said.

    Meanwhile, the gears that grab branches and pull them toward the blades are unforgiving.

    "The human body has no chance" if something gets caught, Barnhart said.

    Morse leaves behind his wife, a son and two grandsons, about whom he talked constantly, Swank said.

    Morse enjoyed jogging and had run several marathons.

    Barnhart said Morse was something of a perfectionist.

    "He was a man who loved his work," Barnhart said. "He was a man who was very particular in how he did things. That's why it's hard to understand how this happened, because he was very careful all the time."

    Quote stolen off another tree site with a forum, so I can't say where.
    © All post are copyrighted and cannot be used without express written permission, by myself, the original author.
  2. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    How do you do a autopsy on a body thats been mulched?
  3. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    Tissue analysis? I'm sure the cause of death is pretty evident in this tragic accident. Feel pain for his family and the guy working with him.
  4. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    Imagine the guy in the tree above him?What a nightmare,the guy may have yelled for somebody,but you can't hear a thing with those machines running and a chainsaw too.I just think they could be made safer than they are.
  5. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    Ah man, what a nightmare! Dont wish that on my worst enemy to happen or even see it happen.
  6. impactlandscaping

    impactlandscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,332

    The deadman pull cords are about useless on a large chipper like a 1250. Our tree company uses the same unit, and there's no way in a panic that you would have the presence of mind to grab a little piece of nylon cord with a small weight on it as you are being pulled in. Without being able to reverse the autofeeder, I'd say it was a rather quick death, so hopefully he didn't suffer. We always have two men at the rear of the chipper.My condolences and prayers go out ot his family, and his partner, who had to see it happen.
  7. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    In my younger days I spent some time at a large chipper. Had several gloves grabbed by branches and pulled into the chipper. Not a good feeling at all.
  8. jreiff

    jreiff LawnSite Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 402

    I think that is something that all who run a chipper should have 2 guys working together at a chipper.
  9. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    If something like that happened to me, and an employee or fellow work died from it, I don't think that I could ever go back to work
  10. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    I've been following the sitch and posting news updates on our BB at work. Some of the pruners are quite concerned while supervision just pooh-poohs the whole thing figuring the guy just did something wrong.

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