Man airlifted to the hospital after being crushed by a tree

UPDATE 12/25/17: The Yelm logger who suffered injuries was identified as Walter Reichel. He had been thinning dead trees on his mom’s 50-acre property in the Lawrence Lake area. Reichel and his friend Harry Miller knew a Douglas Fir tree was dangerous to drop.

Miller stated, “It grew out from a bank, and it had a real wicked, good-sized branch that went off to the side.”

He thought Reichel should leave it for another day but Reichel decided to take it down anyway.

After he cut the tree, it spun around and began falling in a different direction than he expected. Reichel was boxed in with fencing on both sides.

“I remember looking back and thinking: I’m not going to make it — the tree’s going to get me,” he told The Olympian in July. “… I knew exactly how bad I messed up when I saw that tree coming, and I knew I couldn’t outrun it — I knew.”

After the accident, Reichel’s two sons and father-in-law used an excavator to lift the 28 diameter log off of him. He had broken eight ribs and his sternum. His pelvis was busted into numerous pieces.

Since the accident, Reichel said he’s been contacted by a couple of buddies who work in the woods. They told him that they’ve thought about what happened to him, and that’s helped them make safer decisions.

“Hopefully, my story saves somebody else,” Reichel said.

Original Story:
Yelm, WA – A 40 year old man was trapped while attempting to fell a tree on his property. The man was struck in the back as the tree fell on top of him. When authorities arrived the man was already freed from under the 15 – 18 diameter tree by family members using an excavator. The man was then airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

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