Society

Man Dies In 'Horrific' Wood Chipper Accident

| by Lisa Fogarty

A professional landscaper died Monday when he accidentally fell into a wood chipper while working in Davie, Florida.

Hernan Gutierrez, 42, reportedly fell into the teeth of his industrial wood chipper, and his entire body was pulled into the machine, reports NBC Miami. He died instantly.

Police say Gutierrez was working with two other men clearing brush outside of an affordable housing apartment building for senior citizens when the accident took place, reports ABC News. He was reportedly inserting tree limbs and branches into the wood chipper so that they would be sliced into tiny pieces. The man’s coworkers were not with him when he was pulled into the wood chipper, and no foul play is suspected. Police are considering this a “work accident.”

Although first responders quickly reached the site, Gutierrez was already dead when they arrived.

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Witnesses and police officers called the scene “gruesome” and one of Gutierrez’s friends was so distraught over what had happened that he could not even comment.

“As a cop, I’ve seen horrific things,” Police Capt. Dale Engle told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “But to see what the machine could do to a human being … this is not something you see everyday, or something you forget easily.”

Police say the man worked for Tree Techs, Inc. and that the prime contractor for the job he was doing was Green Horizon Services, Inc. A woman who answered the phone at the landscape management company Tuesday said a representative was not available for comment.

There have been a reported 11 wood chipper deaths from 2000 to 2013, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Although this was the first death of its kind to take place in Florida, it was not the state's first reported incident involving a wood chipper. In 1997, Jose DeJesus Velasquez, 53, got entangled in the machine while working at a country club. One decade prior to that incident, 21-year-old Alan Douglas Barnes lost his right arm when it was caught in a wood chipper while he was shredding tree limbs.

Sources: NBC Miami, ABC News, South Florida Sun-Sentinel