Tree tragedy: Kiwi killed after chainsaw cuts throat

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Alexander Kirkley, 32, was killed when the chainsaw he was using "kicked-back" - hitting him in the neck and slicing through his blood vessels. Photo / Facebook

A tree surgeon who dreamed of creating an eco-village in New Zealand bled to death at the top of a tree when his chainsaw cut his throat, an inquest has heard.

Alexander Kirkley was cutting a tree in the back garden of a client's house when the machinery "kicked-back", hit him in the neck and sliced through his jugular vein.

By the time he had been lowered to the ground, the 32-year-old had stopped breathing and was in cardiac arrest.

He was rushed to John Radcliffe Hopsital in Oxford in the United Kingdom, but died two hours later from blood loss.

Kirkley had spent three years in New Zealand before returning to the UK for a few weeks to see family and friends.
Kirkley had spent three years in New Zealand before returning to the UK for a few weeks to see family and friends.

At an inquest into his death, the hearing was told how Kirkley had spent the past three years working as an arborist in New Zealand, where he had hoped to establish a self-sufficient eco-village.

He had returned to the UK a few weeks before his death to see family and friends.

A statement written by the victim's mother, Janet Kirkley, was read to the jury at Oxford Coroners' Court by the Coroner.

She wrote: "Alexander was an amazing young man whose enthusiasm and zest for life came through in everything he did.

"He had lived in a Mongolian yurt for two years, first in our back garden and then down in Devon while he was doing his training.

"He visited more than 13 countries and interested people wherever he went. He lived in an eco-friendly way and it was his dream to build and live in an eco-friendly village in New Zealand.

"Tragically he died at the age of 32 years when so many positive things when happening in his life. It was the first time in three years he was back with family."

Continued below.

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Kirkley's father said he died doing what he loved, working up trees. Photo / Facebook
Kirkley's father said he died doing what he loved, working up trees. Photo / Facebook

A statement from his father Paul said: "In his 32 years Alexander got more from life and gave more back than most can hope to achieve in twice that time.

"He died doing the job he loved most, working up trees."

The hearing was also read a report by paramedic Christian Bloomfield, who was the first medic on the scene.

"When I arrived he was suspended 20ft in the air by ropes and a harness," he said.

He told how he and Kirkley's colleague lowered the casualty from the tree.

"As soon as he was down I sprung into action. I checked for a pulse but he was in cardiac arrest."

After failed attempts to resuscitate him with a defibrillator, he was taken to hospital.

Together with fellow tree surgeons James Tanner and Daniel Edwards, Kirkley had been helping to chop down two trees in the back garden of a house.

After what was described as the "relatively easy" felling of a sycamore tree, the 32-year-old had been using a top-handed chainsaw to cut smaller branches from an ash tree before pulling it down when the accident happened.

The inquest continues.

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