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Tree-trimming truck topples onto house

Grasshopper in the air

A Grasshopper Tree Service truck rests against the garage of a residence in the 1700 block of Laurie Drive Wednesday afternoon after tipping onto the house while in the process of removing a tree branch. Photo by Allie Vugrincic

AUSTINTOWN — Residents in the usually quiet 1700 block of Laurie Drive found their neighborhood the center of attention Wednesday afternoon after a tree-trimming truck toppled onto a garage.

The Grasshoppers Tree Service truck was parked in front of the residence with its arm extended over the garage roof to reach a tree in the backyard about 10:30 a.m. when a strong gust of wind reportedly caught a branch that was being lowered and pulled the entire truck upward, according to Austintown firefighter Ed Ricker. The truck remained upright, resting against the damaged garage for most of the afternoon.

Firefighters were called around 12:30, said Ricker. No one was hurt.

A witness said it took the truck several seconds to swing up, and the sound of snapping wood reportedly was heard blocks away.

A neighbor a few houses down said he didn’t see the truck tip, but was surprised when he walked out back to see the truck’s boom arm and bucket lying across the roof. He said he came out front and saw the truck sitting upright.

“I thought, ‘hey, that doesn’t seem right,'” he said.

Rhianna Wilson of Kerrybrook Drive, the next street over from Laurie Drive, said the boom came into her backyard and toppled part of her fence and tree, barely missing a shed.

The 88 year-old resident of the damaged home was initially seen sitting on his porch while Austintown fire crews placed caution tape to secure the scene. The elderly man was in or near the house when the incident happened, according to his son, who preferred not to be identified. The son said there was little damage to the inside of the house.

Austintown Fire Chief Andy Frost said the elderly man was later removed from his home, and the neighbor to the immediate right was also asked to leave. Frost said crews believed the house was stable, but didn’t want anyone inside until the truck could be safely removed. He said it was not yet clear whether someone was at fault for the incident.

“It has to be taken a look at to see if it’s a misuse of equipment or just an accident,” said Frost. He said because there were no injuries, the investigation likely wouldn’t be that rigorous.

Two cranes from Diamond Steel and a lift arrived at the residence around 4:30 p.m. to remove the truck, and a representative of Ohio Edison turned off power to nearby lines. Dozens of neighbors stopped to watch and photograph the process, some staying until the truck was removed around 6:30 p.m.