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Tree Trimmer Dies after Being Trapped in Palm Fronds

October 25, 1990

PHOENIX (AP) _ A tree trimmer suffocated under a heavy palm fronds that fell on him as he working 25 feet up in the tree, authorities said Wednesday.

Neighbors heard the man’s screams for help, but he died by the time rescuers were able to free him and get him to the ground about 80 minutes later, fire officials said.

Reynaldo Medrano, 36, was working alone Tuesday afternoon on a palm tree in a back yard, said fire Capt. Kevin Boyle. Medrano died of suffocation, the Maricopa County Medical Examiner Office said Wednesday.

Firefighters used a ladder to reach Medrano, who initially was conscious but struggling to breathe, Boyle said.

A ring of cut fronds, possibily weighing hundreds of pounds, had ″slipped down like a hula skirt,″ said Boyle. The weight kept Medrano pinned, even after firefighters had cut his safety chain, he said.

By then, the captain said, Medrano was falling in and out of consciousness. By the time rescuers got him to the ground, he was dead.

Falling palm fronds suffocated two workers in separate accidents in 1987, one in Phoenix and the other in suburban Scottsdale.

Palm fronds grow to six feet or more in length and resemble a huge fan blade.

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