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Man falls to death while trimming tree
Accident occurred in northeast Forsyth
A 39-year-old man died Saturday afternoon after he fell about 40 feet from a bucket truck while trimming a tree on Myrtle Court in northeastern Forsyth County. - photo by Jennifer Sami

NORTHEAST FORSYTH — A 39-year-old Gainesville man is dead after falling about 40 feet while trimming a pine tree Saturday afternoon in the northeast corner of Forsyth County near Lake Lanier.


According to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Jose Luiz Martinez wasn’t wearing safety equipment while in an elevated bucket cutting the tree on Myrtle Court, a residential area off Chestatee Heights Road.


While it remains unclear exactly how the accident occurred, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Simmons said Martinez was not tied off.


“He was not wearing his safety equipment and we’re assuming the tree hit the bucket at this point and the bucket went swinging and jerking and knocked him out,” Simmons said.


“It could have been the whipping motion of the bucket that high up in the air, that thing will whip pretty bad.”


Martinez, who was pronounced about noon, was part of a four-person crew with Gainesville-based MTZ Tree Service that included his brother and a cousin.


Ira Ferguson, who hired the company to service the trees on his heavily wooded property, tried to revive Martinez.


“They banged on the door and told me to call 911,” Ferguson said of the tree-cutting crew. “The dispatcher asked me if I would do CPR and she talked me through it … It’s just horrible [that he died].”


According to Simmons, none of the other three crew members saw Martinez fall. They were clearing the ground when they heard something hit the ground.


“They looked back and the bucket was empty,” he said.


Simmons, who said he had spent a couple of years in the construction industry, added that Martinez was “supposed to be tied off.”


If so, Simmons said, “He would have been dangling, which would have allowed them to have lowered the bucket to the ground. I believe the outcome would be different had he been wearing his safety equipment.”


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was notified of the situation.