EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

December 27, 2012

Worker killed in tree removal accident ID'd

Safety measures to be investigated

HAVERHILL — Investigators have released the name of the man who was killed when he was pinned under a large tree branch Monday.

He was Merle Wilbur IV, 32, of Hampton, N.H., the district attorney’s office said.

Carrie Kimball-Monahan, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said Wilbur was performing commercial tree work at a home when a tree limb gave way, causing him to fall about 15 feet to the ground before the limb landed on him.

Investigators refused to release his name until yesterday, saying they needed to be sure his relatives were notified first.

Kimball-Monahan also said state safety officials will investigate whether proper procedures were being followed at the accident site.

“As part of the investigation, state police have contacted OSHA,’’ she said in an email, referring to state Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “The investigation is ongoing.’’

A pickup truck was put on a ramp truck and removed from the scene by investigators.

The accident happened just after 1:30 p.m. in the yard of a home at 133 North Ave. Wilbur was taken to Lawrence General Hospital’s trauma center shortly after 2 p.m.

He was taken to Lawrence General Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1:57 p.m., Kimball-Monahan said. His body was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Boston for an autopsy. Those results are pending.

Witnesses said Wilbur suffered severe injuries to his legs.

The investigation into the accident is continuing, Kimball-Monahan said.

Witnesses said a large tree, which recently was damaged in a storm, was being removed by Plante’s Tree Removal Takedown company. A truck bearing the company name was at the scene.

When contacted by The Eagle-Tribune, Eileen Woelfel, who owns the house at 133 North Ave. with her husband, Brian Woelfel, said, “We hired someone to take the tree down. I don’t want to talk about it.”

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