Home NEWS Police/Fire Moraga Fatal Fall Second On-The-Job Death For Tree Company In Two Years

Moraga Fatal Fall Second On-The-Job Death For Tree Company In Two Years

Photo: File

An unidentified tree trimmer killed in a fall while cutting away dead limbs of a 60-70 foot tree on Camino Ricardo in Moraga Wednesday worked for the same company blamed after another worker, 25, was electrocuted when he made contact with power lines while doing similar work at a home in Alamo last year.

Investigators for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that the company supervisor/sales rep – responsible for setting crews up for jobs, looking for site-specific hazards and addressing those hazards in a safety meeting prior to work starting – did none of those things at the Alamo work site. Additionally, OSHA investigators determined that the supervisor for Superior Tree Service did not ensure that power to the 21,000 volt power lines dangling just feet away from where their worker labored with an uninsulated metal pole were de-energized prior to work starting.

As a result, an OSHA report finds: “Employee #1 made contact with the power lines, was electrocuted, causing him to catch on fire for almost an hour before the power could be shut off and (the) fire department could retrieve him. He was killed. He died of cardiac arrest primarily and secondarily of burning to death internally.”

The company incurred nearly $30,000 in fines as a result of that incident.

A representative for Superior Tree Service could not be reached for comment, though industry peers began reaching out to this site about their practices as word of this morning’s fatal fall began to spread.

Industry sources said the company has had frequent accidents and near-accidents, avoiding censure or license revocation with frequent name changes and shuttling management. The company currently has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau – for failing to respond to customer complaints.

OSHA Public Information Officer Luke Brown said the unidentified worker was standing on a limb while cutting others when it gave way, causing the fall. Brown said the incident remains under investigation by OSHA, with investigators working to determine if proper safety precautions were being taken.


  1. Cal-OSHA investigation leading to serious citation undoubtedly; workers compensation claim for statutory death benefits an almost certainty; civil liability against prospective tortfeasors likely being explored. A tragic event on multiple levels.

    • Word to the Wise – Local Tree Services

      1. I met a lifelong Lamorinda resident who was a former arborist / tree trimmer. He claimed ‘everyone’ in the occupation was on drugs. Telling, he had behavioral issues, and may have abused them himself.

      2. A tree service starting doing business in Lafayette below Mt. Diablo Blvd. more than 5 years ago. Hard to believe prices, half of what the competition charged. Neighbors checked, they showed insurance paperwork. But workers weren’t wearing proper safety gear / boots, some looked a little haggard, not in company gear (shirts), some had no gloves, etc. They did one or two jobs, took advances on work, then skipped out. One of the ring leaders was wanted, lived in the Monument Blvd area.

      Check references and the Better Business Bureau.

  2. Oh, bleep! So sad. This presents a company which cares about profits above all, profits over the safety of the human beings it employs, it exploits. My condolences to the families of the victims. My condolences to the coworkers scarred by these horrific events. A serious reckoning is now required of those who profited.

  3. If you don’t know a horse, look at its track record. This company should be shut down. Condolences to all.

    • His name was JUAN DANIEL VAZQUEZ AGUILAR (from Puebla) he was my boyfriend, he only went to work and he never came back … I only ask for a prayer for him. everyone who works in trees be very careful in their work

  4. I’ve used the same tree company for 35+ years, shared with friends and neighbors for the great and safe work they do, always first class equipment and safety gear, etc. Original owner still gets up in a tree once in a while, but now his grandson is working with him. Always ask around before hiring someone for this kind of work. There used to be roaming groups of Pacific Islanders who worked cheap, but oh, good golly, what a mess they could leave behind. Don’t even get me going on the contract workers from our local power provider-adept at murdering trees.

    • Agree and cheapest isn’t always best. Various companies come through our neighborhood to drop leaflets all the time. They are not safety conscious and employ young guys who will do anything for a pay check. And you don’t have to search long to see what they can do to your trees. Choose wisely and check them out.

  5. Haven’t seen them around in a while. Wonder if they no longer have the PG$E contract to butcher at will. Their website seems to have them doing more work in SF and on the Peninsula.

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