Falling tree catapults man into air

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by Doug Miller / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on January 10, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 10 at 6:27 PM

HOUSTON—A man cutting down a dead tree in northwest Harris County was severely injured Thursday in a strange accident that sent him hurtling through the air.

As he clutched a rope attached to the tree, apparently trying to control the direction of its fall, the trunk suddenly toppled and catapulted the worker into a thicket of trees, witnesses said.

“He didn’t know what was happening, because he flew right through the air and hit one of the trees right here with his forehead,” said Jose Murillo, who lives across the street from the accident scene.  “And I believe one of his ears ripped.”

The worker slammed into the tree and fell to the ground, Murillo said.  Another man who was helping with the job rushed to his aid and called for help around 9:30 Thursday morning.

Rescue workers said the man appeared to have suffered severe head injuries.  A LifeFlight helicopter carried him to Memorial Hermann Hospital where he underwent surgery.

Neighbors watching the two men said they didn’t seem to know how to safely topple trees.  A woman who lived next door to the wooded lot worried they might inadvertently tumble the tree onto her house.  One witness said it was “like they had the basic idea down, but they were taking a lot of risk.”

“It kind of seemed like they were doing it backwards,” said Albert Sanchez, who lives across the street from the accident scene.  “It was just a couple of guys.”

Authorities didn’t immediately release the 57-year-old injured worker’s name.

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