Investigation into tree trimmer's death still underway

Published: Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 10:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 10:35 p.m.

OCALA — An Occupational Safety and Health Administration official said his agency hopes to finish sometime soon its investigation into the death of an Anthony tree trimmer who fell 50 feet to his death while attempting to cut a piece of tree.

Brian Sturtecky, an official with OSHA, said he thinks the probe should be wrapped up within the next few months as OSHA continues to collect evidence, interview family of the deceased and witnesses.

Normally, these types of investigations can take up to six months, but Sturtecky believes this inquiry should be done before then.

At the conclusion of their investigation, Sturtecky said OSHA will be able to determine if they were any violation/violations. If so, citations and penalties then would be given, he said.

On July 30, Ocala police officers were told by witnesses that Jeffrey Earl Phillips was in a bucket and was not wearing a safety harness. They said he had tied a rope to a tree he was trying to cut down. The rope was attached to the bucket winch.

Phillips, the witnesses said, tried to pull down a partially cut piece of tree using the winch. The rope snapped and caused the bucket to move. As it moved, Phillips was thrown out and fell to the ground.

The 42-year-old Anthony man was taken to a local hospital, where he died.

The incident occurred at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 1831 SE 18th Ave. shortly after 9:30 a.m.

Family members told the Star-Banner that Phillips worked for Conrad Tree Surgeons. The owner of Conrad Tree Surgeons told the Star-Banner that Phillips was a subcontractor and owned his own business.

While the investigation is ongoing, Wanda Jean Phillips, Phillips' mother, said Saturday in a phone interview with a Star-Banner reporter that the family is still coping with her son's death.

“It's just horrible. It's hard to let him go. He was so young,” she said.

She said her son has a 14-year-old teenage boy who misses his father.

“They were really close,” she said.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top