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Trimming palm trees turns deadly for 2 men | News

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Trimming palm trees turns deadly for 2 men

LAS VEGAS -- A tree trimmer killed over the weekend was the second one in less than a month to die after becoming stuck in palm fronds.

The Clark County coroner says 43-year-old Daniel Wynn Smith died after he became stuck in palm fronds Sunday afternoon. Last month, a another man died after firefighters say he got trapped and suffocated removing fronds from a palm tree.

Older untrimmed palm trees pose the most risk. 

"I just saw leaves and brush coming down and then I noticed a guy was up there cutting," said neighbor Jay Akins. "A couple hours later, they had the street blocked off."

It's unclear why Smith decided to trim the tree on a rainy day.

"You would think you wouldn't be up there in the rain," Akins said.

Landscapers say the weather only made the job more dangerous.

Firefighters found Smith unconscious, hanging 25 feet up.

"That's been growing like that for at least a couple of years," said Pat Burgess, a neighbor.

Burgess says there are handymen who go door-to-door in the neighborhood offering to trim trees for as little as $20.

It is unknown if Smith was a licensed tree trimmer.

Industry experts say novices often have no idea the danger posed by overgrown palms.

"In the wet and damp weather, they obviously act like a sponge and you've got dry fronds now become very heavy and wet," said Joe Noriega, Mr. Tree general manager.

Tree trimmers say they see a lot of palms not maintained in older neighborhoods.

"Many of those trees have been neglected," said Noriega.

He says it's important to protect yourself as a homeowner, and make sure you hire a licensed tree company. He adds, trying to trim a palm tree yourself to save money could be a deadly decision.

Licensed tree trimmers say they use a method of trimming starting from the top of the tree and moving down. By doing that, they can avoid getting trapped under hundreds of pounds of dead palm leaves.