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Firefighters, medics and fellow employees carry an injured man after he fell from a tree Monday afternoon. Kellen Moore | Watauga Democrat.

Originally published: 2012-11-19 15:01:26
Last modified: 2012-11-20 15:29:33

Update: Man injured in fall from tree

A man was airlifted to Johnson City Medical Center after falling approximately 30 to 40 feet from a tree Monday afternoon.

A team from Carter Utility Tree Service was cutting limbs in a pine forest off Laurel Gap Ridge Road in Deep Gap when the accident occurred around 1:40 p.m.

Rex Marion of CUTS identified the worker as Juan Mendez, a native of Guatemala in his mid-30s. Marion said Mendez lived in Boone but said he did not believe he had family in the area.

WINGS Air Rescue landed in a field adjacent to the forest to transport the injured man to Johnson City Medical Center in Tennessee.

Dwayne Carter, president of Carter Utility Tree Service, said Tuesday that Mendez was responsive and able to talk to coworkers at the hospital.

He was expected to undergo surgery Tuesday to stabilize a vertebra in his back but did not appear to have internal damage, Carter said.

Carter praised the work of the firefighters, first responders, medics and flight crew in helping his employee.

“Juan is a good employee and has done us a good job, and we appreciate him,” Carter said. “We’re standing by him and trying to do what we can for him.”

It was not immediately clear what caused the man to fall, but Carter said it did not appear that the safety rope had been cut or damaged. The company is still looking into the incident, he said.

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