Lakeland man dies trimming trees at church
A 66-year-old Lakeland man died this weekend when he fell as he was trimming trees for a church where he was a member. Stephen Pederson, of Bonny Shores Drive, Lakeland, died after falling more than 20 feet from a tree at All Faith Baptist Church, 302 Longfellow Blvd. He also worked as a Polk County school crossing guard. About 8 a.m. Saturday, Pederson was trimming trees at the church, a task he volunteered for on several occasions, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Witnesses said Pederson was using an electric saw when one of the trimmed limbs hit a power line and that cut power to the saw, the sheriff’s office said.Pederson started coming down from the tree, got to the ladder and removed his safety harness, according to the sheriff’s office. Pederson appeared to lose his footing and fell. He was conscious and alert en route to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where he later died, the sheriff’s office said. Pederson was hired in November 2011 and was assigned to Combee Elementary School where he helped students cross at the intersection of Woodland Avenue and Morgan Combee Road, the sheriff’s office said. The sheriff’s office said the incident appears accidental, but the investigation remains open pending the autopsy.