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Teen killed in fall from tree in Middleburg

Reported by: Jamie Smith
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Updated: 8/14/2013 3:42 pm
MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- The Department of Labor is investigating why a 14-year-old boy was working for a tree service when he fell to his death in Middleburg.

Blake Bryant, 14, died Tuesday morning when he fell about 50 feet out of a tree in front of a Middleburg home.

Investigators from the Clay County Sheriff's Office tell Action News that the teen accidentally cut through his safety harness with a chainsaw and fell to the ground.

Action News has learned the teen was working for the John Wilkes Tree Service in Palatka.

State Department of Labor officials came out to investigate the accident scene on Scenic Drive. Child labor laws prohibit someone as young as 14 from operating a power saw.

Jerry Brown told Action News that he watched the teen climb the tree next door to his house and was horrified when he learned the victim's age.

"We were all shocked he was 14 years old because he was a big-looking kid," said Brown.

Action News tracked down James Wilkes, a man who spend 30 years in the tree service business. His nephew's company allegedly hired the teen.

"A 14-year-old should have never been up in the tree to start out with," said Wilkes.

Bryant was flown from Middleburg to UF Heath Jacksonville where he was pronounced dead shortly after noon Tuesday.
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wishmistress - 8/14/2013 4:30 AM
1 Vote
OMG! How sad! I'm sure he was only trying to earn money for something important. I don't think his age is as big an issue as his prep training. So sad.

tlynn - 8/13/2013 8:53 PM
1 Vote
You can't even get a work permit at that age, can you? I think child labor laws, and OSHA should have something to say about this…Very sad! My heart breaks for Mom and Dad! So sorry for your loss.

c9bcrewman - 8/13/2013 6:20 PM
1 Vote
a sad story. a little young to be doing this and working for the company. should of never happened.
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