Tree trimmer dies 50 feet off the ground in Sherman Oaks

Man found hanging from tree
Nearly 40 Los Angeles firefighters tried to rescue a tree trimmer dangling 50 feet above ground, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

A tree trimmer died while working 50 feet off the ground in Sherman Oaks on Saturday, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

A neighbor spotted the man dangling upside down and called authorities around noon. Nearly 40 firefighters responded.

Using a truck with an aerial ladder and a rope and harness system, firefighters extricated the man and lowered him to the ground, where he was pronounced dead at 12:45 p.m.


It was unclear how long the man had been hanging upside down.

He was believed to be a private contractor and working alone, said Brian Humphrey, a fire department spokesman.

There were live electrical wires near where the man was working, but it was unknown whether they played a role in his death, Humphrey said.

No eyewitnesses were found, and Humphrey could not say what type of tree the man had been trimming.

The death has been reported to Cal/OSHA, which will investigate along with the L.A. County coroner, Humphrey said.

Humphrey said tree-trimming deaths are “not infrequent.”

He recommended that homeowners hire professionals and that tree trimming should not be done alone.

Palm trees are particularly dangerous because of their large and heavy fronds, which can collapse and suffocate trimmers, Humphrey said.


In January 2017, Cal/OSHA issued a warning after the deaths of four tree trimmers in two months.

One trimmer was struck by a branch, one was suffocated by dry palm fronds, one fell when a branch broke and one was struck by a tree he was cutting.