Lakeland, Florida -A Polk Countyschool crossing guard died after tumbling from a tree at his church Saturdayduring atree trimming accident. It happened while Stephen Pederson,of Lakeland,was trimming trees around 8 a.m. Saturday morningat the All Faith Baptist Church at 302 Longfellow Boulevard in Lakeland.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office sayshe fell over 20 feet.

Investigators say witnesses explain thatPederson was using an electric saw up in a treeuntil the limbs hit a power line and the saw lost power.

They say that'swhen Pederson climbed down the tree with his equipment and as he approached the ladder heremoved his safety harness,lost his footing and fell to the ground. John Auman, a witness says, "He was very religious. His last words were thank you Jesus for waking me up. He kept on thanking Jesus."

Pederson was initially conscious and alert. He was rushed to the hospital but his condition becameworse and he died at Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

Hewas hired in November 2011 and was assigned to Combee Elementary School. He helped students cross at the intersection of Woodland Avenue and Morgan Combee Road.

Detectives saythe incident appears to be accidental, however, the investigation remains open pending autopsy results.

Read or Share this story: