Monticello man killed in wood splitting accident

Posted Sept. 23, 2008, at 12:49 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:55 a.m.

HOULTON – Police said Tuesday that a “tragic, unforeseen” accident led to the death of a Monticello man.

David Violette, 58, was killed Monday afternoon after a wood-splitting accident in a wooded area approximately one-half mile east of U.S. Route 1, Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin said Tuesday.

According to Asselin, Violette had gotten off work and had been in the woods using a sledgehammer and a wedge to split wood. As he was splitting a piece of wood, a piece of the wedge apparently broke off and shot into Violette’s leg, severing his femoral artery.

Asselin said Violette got into his truck and tried to get help, but lost consciousness before he could do so.

His son, who was nearby, called 911 and reported he had discovered his father and thought he was dead.

During the incident, the truck caught on fire. Asselin said Violette’s standard-transmission pickup was still in first gear when police found it. Investigators believe the vehicle became stuck as Violette was trying to summon help and he lost consciousness before he could dislodge it. The rear tire caught on fire due to the spinning, but the fire was extinguished quickly and Violette was not burned.

Asselin said Houlton Police Officer Ezekiel Collins and State Police Trooper Dennis Quint were credited with pulling Violette from the burning vehicle.

Asselin said a physician arrived on the scene and told police he had seen similar injuries over the course of his medical career. Violette’s body was taken to Houlton Regional Hospital for a leg X-ray, and a piece of the metal fragment was found in his leg.

“This was a tragic, unforeseen accident,” Asselin said. “A lot of people have used sledge-hammers and wedges to cut wood in Maine. This was just tragic.”

The Houlton Fire and Ambu-lance Department responded to the scene. Asselin and Houlton Police Sgt. Troy Fitzpatrick assisted with the investigation.

Violette was employed by Aroostook County as the super-intendent of buildings.

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