Logger killed while working in West Finley woods

November 20, 2013

A logger from Fayette County died Wednesday after wind apparently blew down a tree that landed on him while he was cutting down a different tree in West Finley Township.

State police identified the victim as John Wesley Pirl, 46, of Normalville, who died while his coworker was delivering logs to a loading area.

West Finley fire Chief Steve Emery said Pirl did not have a pulse when firefighters arrived on scene about 2:45 p.m., just seven minutes after Washington County 911 dispatched them to the accident.

Emery said the coworker had already cut the tree off of Pirl and attempted to revive him. He said the tree that fell on Pirl appeared to have weak roots.

The coworker also needed to travel nearly a mile to call 911 because of poor cell phone service in the area, Emery said.

Firefighters were met at 264 West Finley Road by the coworker, who flagged them down and led them to the body.

Pirl's body was found about 75 yards off West Finley Road near Greene County.

Pirl, who lived on Middle Fork Road, worked for Fayette Forest Products Inc. of Scottdale, police said.

Washington County Coroner Tim Warco said he pronounced Pirl dead at 4:30 p.m. at the scene of the accident. He said the man suffocated from compression after being pinned under the fallen tree.

State police said foul play is not suspected.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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