Cutting A Downed Tree


There is a hidden danger in cutting a downed tree that a lot of people are simply not aware of.

You see it all the time when a strong storm topples power lines, trees, etc. The very next day people go outside with a chainsaw to remove the debris and put some semblance back into their daily lives.

That’s what happened back in 2010 here in Maine after a freak wind storm wreaked havoc across the state. A young child was playing in the yard as his grandfather tried cleaning up the resulting mess.


Experienced woodsmen apparently are aware that uprooted trees can maintain some tension, and will occasionally spring back into place once the tops are removed, Joyce said.

Five-year-old Isaac Benjamin died Sunday after playing in the hole created when two pine trees toppled in last week’s wind storm, officials said.

The tree had blown over and Isaac’s grandfather, Christopher Gowen, 51, was cutting up the tree to help out his daughter, who had in recent weeks moved back from Maryland to her hometown of Pownal.

Isaac’s father is deployed with the Marines, currently stationed in Hawaii.

The trees, approximately 50 to 60 feet tall, had narrowly missed the garage as the roots pulled partly free from the soggy ground, creating a hollow where they had been, said Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce.

Gowen cut through the trunk of one tree, a foot and a half in diameter, and when he did, tension in the roots that remained in the ground suddenly pulled the 10-foot stump upright, the roots crashing back into the hole, Joyce said.

Gowen looked around for Benjamin and his 13-year-old sister and then spotted some of the boy’s sweatshirt beneath the roots.

“While family members called 911, the grandfather frantically tried to dig his grandson out from under the tree,” Joyce said.

Rescue workers were able to drive into the woods, attach a line from the pickup to the pine, and pull it back so the boy could be freed.

The boy was taken to Maine Medical Center by ambulance but was pronounced dead. The state medical examiner determined the cause of death to be accidental asphyxiation from the weight of the root system compressng the boy’s face and chest.


That is how quickly it can happen.

Stay safe and be aware of your surroundings, peace.