A 47-year-old man was killed on Monday after he fell from a cherry picker while cutting down a tree in Warrenville, according to the Aiken County Coroner's Office.
Joseph Benjamin Lord, of Gloverville, died at about 6 p.m. on Monday from traumatic internal injury, according to Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton.
Lord, an employee of Ennis Tree Service, was in the bucket of a cherry picker and cutting a tree at a home on Augusta Road at about 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Carlton said.
“He cut a piece of the trunk, and it fell back onto the bucket and knocked him and the bucket to the ground,” Carlton said, adding that the bucket was between 35 and 50 feet off the ground when the incident happened.
Lord was transported to Georgia Regents Medical Center, where he died in surgery just after 6 p.m.
“He basically had some internal bleeding that they couldn't locate while he was in surgery, and he went into cardiac arrest,” Carlton said.
A message left at Ennis Tree Service was not returned by press time on Tuesday. Carlton said it's not known if Lord was wearing proper safety gear.
“There were safety straps there, so we think he was wearing safety gear,” he said.
Cheryl Padgett, the owner of the home where the incident happened, said lightning struck the tree during thunderstorms on June 9. The strike split part of the tree trunk.
“It just fell. It split,” Padgett said, recalling the accident. “The tree split and it made him fall.”
The truck remained in the front yard of Padgett's home on Tuesday, and in the backyard was the bucket, which had been broken off by the tree. On the ground next to the bucket was a wide “tie off” belt that Lord apparently wore in case he fell, Padgett said.
Padgett said they found out about Lord's death when they called his office on Tuesday to check on him.
“It's horrible for his family,” she said. “I don't know what to say. He was just doing his job.”
Cricket Skipper, a friend and former employer of Lord, remembered him as “a real nice guy” who provided for his common-law wife.
“He was church-going, he worked hard to provide for her,” Skipper said. “He was loved by everybody that got to know him. He had a deep voice, but he was very soft-spoken. He worked hard and was a God-fearing man.”
She recalled an eerie conversation she had with Lord recently.
“He was telling me he had to be more careful these days,” she said. “I said, 'Why?' He said, 'One of the latches on one of the lifts don't catch, so you have to be careful.'
“I told him, you don't need to be up in something like that,” she said.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.