Emergency crews on scene at Maple Ridge Golf Course Monday. (THE NEWS/files)

Lower Mainland arborist killed on golf course ran tree care business for 30-plus years

Bob Fitz-James died Monday on Maple Ridge Golf Course

A Maple Ridge arborist who cared about what he did and how he did it, and cared for those who worked for him, died in a workplace accident Monday evening.

Bob Fitz-James, 54, was killed after being crushed by a falling tree on the Maple Ridge Golf Course at about 5:30 p.m.

“Bob was the best,” said his wife, Leslie Anne Stevens.

He owned AC Tree Care and Removal in Maple Ridge.

“He owned that company for 30-plus years. He’s a local icon in a lot of ways. Everybody knew Bob,” she said.

Stevens said he looked out for his small crew, who he and his wife considered part of the family. That crew, and former employees have been supporting Stevens since the accident on Monday.

Even a City of Maple Ridge bylaws officer, with whom Fitz-James used to tangle, dropped by with flowers and tears, Stevens added.

“Being Bob, if he had to die … if he had to pick, that’s what he’d pick, I think,” Stevens said.

Recently, he had a young employee who he’d planned on keeping on for at least a year, then help him find a lifelong occupation. Another former employee said he did the same for him, Stevens said.

Usually, Fitz-James kept on a crew of between two and four employees.

“It’s a motley crew of misfits, but they’re our crew of misfits and we love them,” she said. “They have been here non-stop, since it happened.”

Long-time friends such as Csaba More were also dropping by.

“The outpouring from the community and the phone calls that I’m receiving are incredible,” she added.

Maple Ridge emergency crews were called to the golf course, located on Golf Lane off 207th Street, around 5:30 p.m., for a report of a fallen tree.

The incident took place at the end of the first fairway, said Maple Ridge fire chief Howard Exner.

“He was working on the tree and somehow, it basically fell on him.”

Trish Knight Chernecki of WorkSafeBC said investigators will try to identify what happened and how to prevent such an incident in the future.

An inspection report could be released next week. However, reports are only released if it’s believed they won’t compromise the investigation.

A separate investigation report could take months.

The employer must also do its own investigation, she added.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford Agrifair’s 2020 event still in the works

Fair will respect COVID-19 health directives, but continuing plans in hope ban will be lifted

Man sentenced for setting apartment barbecue on fire in Abbotsford

Michael Rodden climbed to second-storey balcony in March 2019

Public urged to continue donating blood during pandemic

Upcoming donor clinics in Abbotsford and Mission

120 more recreation staff laid off by City of Abbotsford

Job cuts from closure of public facilities, city will re-hire after health emergency passes

‘Possibilities are endless’ at Black Press digital career fair

Black Press Digital Career and Education Fair begins April 4

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Significant snowfall forecast for Interior mountain passes

Allison Pass, the Okanagan Connector, Rogers Pass and Kootenay Pass could see 15 to 25 cm of snow

Most Read