Village president takes serious tumble while trimming diseased tree
It is impossible to count how many local trees have fallen victim to the ravages of the emerald ash borer, but Fredonia Village President Don Dohrwardt almost became a human casualty last week.
Dohrwardt, 66, toppled some 25 feet while cutting down an infested 70-foot tree on his Don’s Fredonia Greenhouse property on South Milwaukee Street on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
“The tree sprawled over the north end of the greenhouses. The way it is growing, I figured it would cost about $5,000 for a guy with a boom truck to come in and take it down,” he said.
Dohrwardt said he used to run a tree-removal service in the 1970s and ’80s, and looked forward to tackling the project a little at a time.
“I wanted to remove what I could while the tree was relatively green, instead of waiting until the tree was dead. We spent the last two weeks, maybe two or three hours at a time, working on the tree. It was kind of fun getting up in a tree again,” he said.
“Trees are a lot like road maps, and you have to know which way to go. Which limbs to cut first or you’ll get lost.”
As he used a belt to climb the troubled tree and cut the branches, his wife Lisa was on the ground, collecting the debris.
“I had cut off the branches and limbs. All that was left was the stub in the center,” Dohrwardt said.
While making one of those final cuts, something went wrong.
“Suddenly, the harness broke and there was nothing holding me in the tree,” Dohrwardt said.
He toppled from his perch, hitting the tree and parts of the greenhouse below.
When he hit the ground, Dohrwardt was knocked unconscious for several minutes.
His wife looked on with fear.
“The next thing I remember, the EMTs were all around me,” Dohrwardt said.
After having various scans and x-rays at Froedtert Hospital, he was told he somehow managed to avoid breaking any bones.
Dohrwardt moved gingerly while presiding at last Thursday’s Village Board meeting.
“I am all in one piece. Just a little tender in a couple of areas,” he told the audience of concerned onlookers.
The accident has not scared him off tree trimming.
“There is still a little work to be done on the stub, but I think I will wait awhile,” he said.