A Bay area man who was cutting tree branches with a chainsaw near a power line is the first known Hurricane Irma related death in Hillsborough County.

  • Wilfredo Hernandez, 55, trimming a tree when accident occurred
  • Hernandez died at the scene
  • Accident recorded by neighbor on her cell phone

“He was helping,” said neighbor Yadira Rosa. “He don’t even live here.”

Rosa said she was watching Wilfredo Hernandez, 55, trim a tree in her neighbor’s backyard shortly after Hurricane Irma hit the area and had a feeling something bad was going to happen. The Town N Country woman said she witnessed the horrible tragedy and caught most of the incident on cell phone video.

“I told my husband, ‘Should I keep recording this because I don’t like the way he’s handling that?’” said Rosa. “The chainsaw got kind of caught up and just flipped and cut his throat -- we witnessed everything and he just died.”

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, while Hernandez was cutting branches one of them became entangled with the chainsaw, which caused it to kick up and cut his carotid artery. He was pronounced dead at the scene. It happened at 5115 Town N Country Blvd. on Monday at 5:41 p.m.

Neighbor Lucy Rodriguez also witnessed the horrific incident.

“We are feeling very sad because he was talking with us,” said Lucy Rodriguez. “In the same time as he was talking he cut his neck, you know, the vein. All the blood (came) out and he did like try to stop the blood and he died in the moment.”

Rosa said she heard Hernandez’s last conversation before he died.

“We actually heard his last words, because the chainsaw went off and he was like, ‘hey vieja, what happened? You run out of gas?’” she said. “Turned it on again and two minutes after that is when everything happened.”

Neighbors said it took a few hours for first responders to get Hernandez’s body down from the tree. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue used a harness to lower him.

Hernandez’s nephew told us that his family is upset and trying to cope with the death.

“He was a very good person,” said Rodriguez. “A nice person.”

“I’m sorry for the family and I wish I could get into contact and see if I could go to the funeral,” Rosa said. “At least I have a little video of when he was alive.”