KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) Owners of a tree company are devastated after an accident killed a worker on the job. Now, one man who saw it happen wants to know could that worker have been saved. This story started when three workers came out to remove several trees at a South Knoxville house.
It ended with one of those workers trapped in the branches.
Kenton Yeager just wanted to get three trees removed from his yard, so he called Two Brothers Tree Removal and Landscaping. Kenton Yeager says, "They were coming by and giving flyers out."
Three men showed up to do the job, but as one man was cutting....
Yeager says, "I saw the thing split on him. It crushed him between the tree and his harness. It was awful."
Yeager called 9-1-1 and Rural Metro was there in 15 minutes.
Crews couldn't get the man down so they called in the volunteer rescue squad. Before they arrived, the Two Brothers who owned the tree company say they asked to help. Yeager says, "They wanted to go up and get him, but Rural Metro wouldn't let him because it was an unsafe situation."
The vertical response team did free the man, but it took 45 minutes. By then, he was unconscious and later, passed away. Company owners are upset and tell Local 8 News in the ten years they've been in business, they've seen this type of problem before but never this ending. That's why they're angry they weren't allowed to help, but emergency crews tell us there's a reason for that. Rural Metro Regional Director Jerry Harnish says, "One thing we want to do is make sure no one is in the hazard area except those safety experts."
Lauren Davis asks, "Even if it means someones life is hanging in balance?"
Harnish answers, "Especially because that's the only way to make sure the victim can be rescued assuming it can be done and no one else is endangered."
The tree company owner told me the man who died was a good climber and had all the necessary equipment. It was just a crazy accident. He tells me the victim was a sub-contractor he met just that morning.
His Craigslist ad said he worked in Pigeon Forge, but the business shut down during the cold months and he was looking for work to support his family through winter.
The man who owns the home says that tree is now even more dangerous than it was before. He's going to take a few days to recover from what he witnessed, before figuring out what to do next.