Debris Clean-Up Turns Deadly

Thursday, January 17th 2008, 7:49 pm
By: News On 6

The ice storm was responsible for a lot of heartache, but none are feeling it as painfully as the Sanders family.  Seventy-year-old Doug Sanders was on a ladder, trying to remove a damaged tree branch, when he fell and was killed.  The News On 6's Steve Berg talked with his family on Thursday.

The Sanders family knows there are probably other people, like their dad, who will be tempted to do more with the ice storm clean-up than they should.  And they don't want to see this kind of accident happen to anyone else.

They tried repeatedly to talk their dad out or working on the tree on his own, but it's not hard for Doug Sanders' daughters to understand why he did.

"We spent many times underneath that tree, sitting in chairs.  That's where he would always sit.  In the shade in the summertime and," said Sandy Smith.

"That tree meant a lot to him.  That's a tree that he and his father planted 60 years ago," said Sheila Sanders.  "So he wanted it to be perfect."

Besides a sentimental attachment to the tree, they say their father, like a lot of aging parents, had an independent streak.

"You know he was a big strong 6-foot-4 man for many years, and I think he had trouble coming to terms with the fact that he was getting a little older," said Sanders.

"And that was just kind of what he did, you know he spent a lot of time here by himself out in the yard, piddling around," said Smith.

It's how he passed the time.

"He had to stay busy," said Brenda Wood.

They say it was like that since he was retired and since their mother passed away 16 years ago.

"Keep an eye on your parents and make sure they're not trying to take care of this clean-up on their own," said Sanders.  "And I think if anything good can come out of this, it's that maybe we can save a life of someone who is considering going out and doing some of the clean-up on their own."

"Like my dad was on Social Security.  He didn't have any money to pay somebody to do it.   So it was either he did it or it didn't get done," said Smith.

Authorities say Mr. Sanders had tied a rope to a tree limb and say when he cut the limb loose, it appears the rope snagged around his arm and pulled him off the ladder.  They believe he was killed by the fall.