Tree trimmer dies in accident at Stanford housing complex

Cal/OSHA investigates circumstances surrounding fatality at Stanford West Apartments

A 36-year-old man died while working on trees at a Stanford University housing complex in Palo Alto on Saturday afternoon, Palo Alto fire officials said Monday.

He has been identified as Jesus Silva Romero of San Jose, according to the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's office.

Firefighters responded to a report of an injured worker at Stanford West Apartments at 700 Clark Way around 12:40 p.m., Deputy Fire Chief Geoffrey Blackshire said.

"He had been cutting limbs in a tree" prior to the accident, Blackshire read from a department incident report.

Dispatchers also received a request for a technical rescue that was later canceled when crews pronounced Romero dead at the scene, Blackshire said. Palo Alto police officers also responded and assisted in cornering off the area.

One dispatch report indicated Romero had been in a tree with a chainsaw, Battalion Chief Bobby Davis said. Romero was found laying on the ground next to a tree roughly 30 feet tall and visible from Sand Hill Road.

Stanford West Apartments is a 628-unit residential complex for university faculty and staff on the northwest side of the campus.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the work-related accident that turned fatal, Cal/OSHA spokesman Luke Brown said. Romero was employed by Arborwell Inc., a tree trimming and maintenance company based out of Hayward.

Cal/OSHA investigators were on scene Saturday looking into the circumstances surrounding the accident. The investigation is expected to take about six months to determine if there were any workplace safety code violations, Brown said.

A search of online Department of Labor records showed the state agency opened five investigations into Arborwell Inc. over the past five years.

The employee was a foreman for Arborwell and died in "climbing-related accident," company spokesman Larry Kamer said in an email Monday night.

"This is the first employee fatality we have ever had in our company's history, and we are shocked and saddened by this terrible tragedy," Kamer said.

Arborwell officials have offered their support to Romero's family and are working with Cal/OSHA and other agencies in the investigation into the accident, according to Kamer.

The company also has grief support services available to colleagues and co-workers, Kamer said.

The Fire Department, Cal/OSHA and Kamer didn't provide further details on how the accident played out.


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18 people like this
Posted by Safety
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2018 at 7:43 pm

How awful. This is not the first young man to die in the Bay Area from a tree trimming accident this year. These should be completely preventable. I hope OSHA is paying attention.

My sincere sympathies to his family.

17 people like this
Posted by Rachel K
a resident of Stanford
on May 21, 2018 at 10:08 pm

Below is a GoFundMe link set up by Jesus’ family to help with funeral expenses. He leaves Behind a 14yr old daughter and 7yr old son. Such a tragedy! His family is in my prayers! Web Link

8 people like this
Posted by Rachel K
a resident of Stanford
on May 21, 2018 at 10:13 pm

Link to GoFundMe for Jesus: Web Link In case the WebLink in my last post was not visible.

20 people like this
Posted by Salvador Silva
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2018 at 9:30 am

This was a horrible tradegy, the man who died was my uncle. I was at work when I revived a call informing me of what happened. I was at the scene of the accident after everything happened. I thank those who have been kind enough to help us during this hardship. My family and I are coming together to mourn our loss as well as help comfort the children my uncle left behind. Once again, thanks to those who are helping us during this time.

Like this comment
Posted by Ron valencia
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2018 at 2:16 am

The family should make certain to get legal assistance to protect the rights of the dependent children under the workers compensation system. They can call the Informaion and Assistance Office at the San Jose Workers Compensation Board [portion removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Newsflash
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 3, 2018 at 7:57 am

This is a tragic losd, my condolences to the family.

To stay competitive the majority of workers working on residential projects do not have insurance. Hopefully this man was covered. If not it will be the homeowner that is liable.
This new economy, has everything down to the lowest bid, including human life. We need change.

2 people like this
Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 3, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Arborwell is licensed, bonded and insured:

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by landscaper
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 7, 2018 at 10:54 am

This company has Five OSHA incidents in the last Five years! One might say that this young man died due to a lack of interest in providing a safe work place. Wonder how much training he and his crew had?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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