On the afternoon of Sunday August 21,I went out to my brother’s place to help him remove a couple of dead tree tops that had been hit by lightening a few years earlier. He wanted then removed because a couple of weeks ago, another tree that had also been lit by lightening came down in a wind storm and just missed his house by a couple of feet, so he didn’t want to wait for another storm to bring the two remaining trees down onto his house.
Because we only wanted to remove the top of the tree, we used an electric pole chainsaw from a ladder that was resting against the tree. We struggled for a few hours trying to get the top of the first tree down, and finally, using a rope tied to his bob-cat, it finally let go and hit the ground.
Before we could cut the top of the second tree, we needed to remove a long sucker branch that was about 20 feet off the ground and about 35 feet tall. My brother cut through the bottom of the branch and then I went up the ladder to do the final top cut to bring the branch down. Just as the saw was nearing the first cut I saw the branch move and at the same time, the chainsaw became pinched and I couldn’t remove it. I didn’t worry as I knew the branch was falling and that within a second it would be free. I watched as the 35 foot long limb slowly made its way toward the ground, but because this limb was alive, when the top of the limb hit the ground, it didn’t break apart but instead bounced and I was shocked to see it recoil with the cut end coming back at me.
I knew I didn’t have time to get off the ladder before it hit so still holding the chain saw in my left hand; I grabbed the ladder and the tree trunk as best I could as the cut branch glanced off the left edge of the ladder and then lodged itself on a rung on the right side of the ladder. The top of the ladder was pinned against the tree trunk and the bottom was embedded in the ground so for the moment, I was safe. I called to my brother to hold the ladder as I made my way down with the chainsaw. No sooner had I reached the bottom than the branch shifted and took the ladder down with it. We pulled the aluminum ladder free and found that the top and bottom section were bent a good foot off centre. The ladder was now useless.
I had crawled down the ladder without pain so I thought I was ok. I was wearing shorts so I checked myself and noticed a scrape and bruise on the right side of my left knee cap and another just over my right knee, and a couple of scratches on my legs. Other than that I was ok, or so I thought. We cleaned up the debris and had supper and as time went on I could feel my knees begin hurt, especially when I moved them as they were stiffening up.
Later when I got home, my knees were still stiff and sore and I also noticed bruises on my left forearm and right elbow that I must have gotten when the branch hit the ladder that then hit my arm. I also concluded that the branch must have glanced off my left knee cap and skimmed my right leg as it lodged itself against the right side of the ladder as my knees would have been partly exposed on the tree side of the ladder. I was lucky as I could have been seriously hurt.
The other thing was that before I left to help my brother, my sister had asked to give me a hug, saying that it may be the last time she might be able to do so, referring to a statement that my brother had jokingly made saying that he would put the ladder in the bucket of his bobcat so that I could cut the top of the tree off. Little did she know that her statement had a prophetic nature to it.