WITNESSES are recounting the horror moment a worker was killed after being pulled into a wood chipper.
The incident occurred just after 8.30am local time on March 16 in Oshawa, Canada.
An arborist, identified by family as 22-year-old Daniel Vanheyst, was working to remove trees in the McLaughlin neighborhood, according to reports.
Vanheyst was working alongside a coworker to put tree branches into a wood chipper.
A neighbor had been recording the tree removal process on his cellphone when tragedy struck.
“I saw his feet leave the ground. It was that quick,” the neighbor told The Vancouver Sun.
The neighbor said he then ran to help Vanheyst and his co-worker.
Vanheyst was apparently partially pulled into the wood chipper, local media reported. Cops said he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Witnesses described seeing first responders show up within minutes.
The company Vanheyst was working for, Eco Tree Care, had been contracted by the City of Oshawa to trim and remove ash trees.
Their contract had reportedly begun just this week.
“They’re an extended part of our family so when something like this tragic happens our heartfelt condolences and our hearts go out to the family. Very hard to deal with,” Mike Saulnier, Director of Operations with the City of Oshawa, told CTV News Toronto.
“There’s no such place for such an incident to happen and that’s what’s very hard to digest.”
Friends and family members of Vanheyst are in mourning, with one family friend sharing a tribute post on Facebook.
Mimi Kashira Haws wrote on behalf of the family, calling Vanheyst a hardworking young man.
“Daniel was only 22, lived with his parents in Verona and until his death this morning he was healthy, alive and well. He died during a work accident in Oshawa.
“My heart aches for his family, Andrew Vanheyst and Jeanine. Please remember this family in your prayers.
“Trauma and shock to loose it grips over the family at this time of deep grieving.”
The Toronto Auditor General has been investigating safety issues among contractors in the urban forestry industry for years, according to Canada news outlets.
They’ve reportedly found industry-wide safety issues, including workers not wearing proper personal protection equipment and getting too close to wood chippers.
Oshawa is a city in Ontario situated on the Lake Ontario shoreline.
The Ministry of Labour continues to investigate the incident, as well as the equipment that was being used for the tree removal.
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