Cobb accident kills tree worker David Hernandez

Cobb accident kills tree worker David Hernandez

David Hernandez died after a tree-cutting accident on April 15. His nephew said the supervisor on site declined to call 911 until he stopped breathing hours later

MABLETON, Ga. — A Cobb County man is dead following an accident in a tree. David Hernandez, 57, was part of a crew removing a tree from a yard in Mableton. 

This was an accident that took place on a residential property in Cobb County that has both horrified the victim’s family and metro Atlanta’s tree industry.

Gesturing toward a crew of workers in Sandy Springs, tree service owner Tierson Boutte said his company respects the dangers present in his industry. 

“Of the three people here, all three have been trained in aerial rescue,” Boutte said, whose company had no connection to the accident.

However, tree industry insiders said those safety standards can change from company to company.  

David Hernandez was a tree worker who died just hours after a tree-cutting accident on April 15.

“He was one of the nicest, coolest guys you’ve ever met,” his nephew Art Alcantar said. 

Alcantar added the homeowner told him Hernandez was suspended in a tree – when a limb broke. He said Hernandez got caught among the limbs and ropes holding him up.

“He was still suspended in the tree upside down,” Alcantar said. “He had his safety rope around the tree. So that kept him from coming all the way down.” 

Alcantar said the homeowner helped free his uncle. But, he said the supervisor on site declined to call 911 until after Hernandez had stopped breathing – some four hours later.

A Cobb County Police report stated nothing about the tree accident and only describes Hernandez’s death as “accidental.” The report also does not identify who called 911 nor the supervisor of the job site.

Cobb Police did not respond to inquiries about the status of the investigation or to multiple requests for more information.

“How about the four hours on the job where you chose not to call 911? It’s inexcusable in my mind,” said Christie Bryant, a past president of the Georgia Arborists Association – who knew David Hernandez. “Cobb County dropped the investigation.”

“If (the job site) had just had the minimums that’s required according to OSHA and industry standards, David would be alive today,” she said.

Alcantar, who owns his own tree company, said his uncle was competent and experienced at his job. Yet, industry insiders said accidents are an ongoing hazard because no two trees are alike.

Cobb County has not released a medical examiner’s report yet on the death of David Hernandez, although officials said that will happen this week.

“The hardest part was having to call his kids and tell them that (their) dad is gone,” Alcantar said.