Tree trimmer who died falling into wood chipper in Menlo Park ID'd; Cal/OSHA investigating

Cal/OSHA tells ABC7 News the tree services employee was pulled into the chipper during tree trimming operations.

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Thursday, October 13, 2022
Tree trimmer killed by chipper in Menlo Park ID'd
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A tree trimmer who died after falling into a chipper in Menlo Park has been identified as a 47-year-old Redwood City man, according to police.

MENLO PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- A tree trimmer died after falling into a chipper in Menlo Park on Tuesday afternoon, according to police.

The workplace death was reported at 12:53 p.m. on the 900 block of Peggy Lane, where officers arrived to find the worker had died.

The man was identified as Jesus Contreras-Benitez. He was 47 years old and resided in Redwood City, according to the San Mateo County Coroner's Office.

Residents living in the neighborhood told ABC7 News it's typical to see tree trimming activity across the city. Many streets, including along Peggy Lane, are lined with towering trees.

However, tragedy struck Tuesday. The state's division of Occupational Safety and Health says an employee of FA Bartlett Tree Expert Company died.

Cal/OSHA described, "According to the outside source, the employee was pulled into the chipper during tree trimming operations."

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"We all feel sick and sad," longtime resident Lisa Mitchell said. "We're really sad. We're trying to imagine what the poor family and their fellow workers are feeling. And it's just, it's a lot. We just feel terrible."

Fellow workers were on scene Tuesday afternoon and said the company would not be releasing a statement.

Resident Mitchell explained the community is quite familiar with the company.

"We see a lot of their trucks," she said. "So, I can only imagine what they're feeling, because I'm sure they treat their employees like family and it's just, it's awful."

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When police arrived around 12:53 in the afternoon, they found the man dead from injuries sustained in that incident.

Resident Thanh Skinner said neighbors were previously alerted about tree-trimming operations in the area. However, they never imagined it would lead to a deadly incident.

"It's generally very peaceful, quiet, you don't really see any activity," Skinner described. "So, when I came home around 2:30 p.m., the street was completely blocked off. And so we thought maybe something had happened to one of our neighbors."

Cal/OSHA will be investigating the death and has six months to issue citations if health and safety violations are found.

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Meantime, residents along Peggy Lane said they know how dangerous the job could be on so many levels. Tuesday's tragedy is just one example.

"You hear about the possibilities of horrific things happening, but don't really know that they can," Mitchell said. "And today was clearly proof that they can."

The identity of the worker will be released by the San Mateo County coroner's office, and the death is being investigated by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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