Plea in tree trimmer death will help victim's son - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Plea in tree trimmer death will help victim's son

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - An eight-month-old child is being awarded thousands of dollars more than a year after his father was killed in a tree trimming accident.

It was 15 months ago that Joshua Pudsey, 42, was using a cherry picker outside a La Mesa home on Date Avenue to trim a eucalyptus tree when a large branch fell to the ground crushing him to death.

His family said they're pleased with what happened in court Thursday. They wanted the company, Three Frogs Inc, to take some responsibility, which they did. Pudsey's son will now receive more than $300,000.

Eight-month-old Jack never got a chance to meet his dad, because Joshua Pudsey died before his son was born. Jack's mom said after a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of tears, but finally Thursday there was some good news for their family

“They were at fault. They needed to plead guilty, they did plead guilty. What they need to remember is a man was killed. A man lost his life due to their incompetency,” said victim's fiancée Vangie Richards.

Executives of Pudsey's former employer pled guilty to a felony charge of unemployment tax evasion and a misdemeanor charge of failure to have workers compensation insurance.

As part of the plea agreement, the three defendants, company owner David Wolfe, CFO Jonathan Cox and COO John Murphy were ordered to pay $290,000 in fines and $23,000 in restitution to baby Jack.

Pudsey died in November of 2013. The 42-year-old was trimming trees using a cherry picker outside a La Mesa home, when a large branch from a 60-foot eucalyptus tree fell on him, crushing his head.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined Pudsey and his coworkers didn't have the experience or training to cut down a tree that size. However all OSHA-related charges have been dropped.

Jack's mother is grateful her son will at least get the financial help he needs:

“Jack's gonna change the world. Jack's gonna change the world. I look forward to Jack getting a proper education and just being the best kid that he wants to be,” she explained.

The family will be setting up a trust fund for Jack, so his money is protected until he is older.

A judge also agreed to drop the one felony charge to a misdemeanor, if the defendants pay the full $313,000 before their next court date, which is in a few weeks.

All three defendants are due back in court March 26 for sentencing and all face up to a year in jail.

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