Aug. 7 2018 12:00 AM

He fell from a ladder while fleeing the swarming insects.


A tree trimmer in Jacksonville Beach, Florida died after disturbing a wasp nest. It wasn’t the wasps’ stings that caused his death, but the fall from the ladder he was on, according to a story published on, the website of The Florida Times-Union newspaper.

The story is a sad reminder of two hazards landscape and tree workers often face, insect attacks and falls from ladders.

Joseph English, 57, sustained severe head trauma, a broken back and other injuries when he fell 20 feet off the ladder and onto a brick pathway next to a driveway at the home where he had been working.

Larry Lyles, the owner of the company English worked for, Daddy and Girls Landscaping Service, had been working alongside his employee when the accident happened. He told police that the man was up on the ladder trimming a palm tree when he apparently disturbed a wasp nest. The insects swarmed and attacked, causing him to fall as he tried to escape.

A coworker said she heard English yell, and when she looked up, saw him drop a hand saw he’d been using. He was trying to descend the ladder when he appeared to let go and fell backward.

English died later at a local hospital.