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Victim of Bethlehem tree trimming accident identified

Published On: Jul 28 2013 06:26:38 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 30 2013 09:47:48 AM EDT

Man dies tragic death in Bethlehem


Relatives said the tree trimmer killed in Saturday's power line accident in Bethlehem was finally turning his life around.  They identified him as 42-year-old Bob Rogers, a veteran tree trimmer.

There are a few things Bob Rogers loved: his girlfriend, fishing, and his job.  He had done it for much of his adult life, but that job cost Rogers his life. 

Authorities said Rogers' bucket truck came in contact with a live electrical line Saturday morning.  He was part of a crew from Asplundh Tree Expert Company, doing annual maintenance work for PPL Utilities ahead of Musikfest. 


The accident happened underneath Bethlehem's Minsi Trail Bridge along the Lehigh River.

"He was the type on the crew that would do the stuff that nobody else wanted to do," said cousin Mark Rogers.  "Bob was the guy they called on for that kind of stuff."

In a candid interview with 69 News, Mark Rogers said his cousin battled alcoholism for years, including a stint in prison for multiple DUI arrests. 

Rogers also lost his five year-old son to cancer a decade ago.  But his life was finally turning around, Rogers' family said, after he moved to the Lehigh Valley to be with his girlfriend.

"I love the fact that the last 15 months, he's been happy," said Mark Rogers.  "He's had a partner."

Local and federal investigators are still looking into how Saturday's accident happened.  In spite of his past troubles with drinking, Mark Rogers does not believe alcohol was involved.  He said his cousin was a hard worker who took his job -- and safety -- very seriously.

"He's never, ever went to work and drank, because he knows he couldn't do that," he said.  "That's a dangerous job."

Bob Rogers died doing what he loved.  Now, those who loved him are trying to cope.

"At some point, I'm going to cry my eyes out," his cousin said.  "I just haven't yet, because I just know Bob wouldn't want me to do that.  He wouldn't want people to make a big fuss out of him."

Police have released very few details about what led up to the accident, although a PPL spokesman said it appears Rogers jumped or fell out of his bucket truck, and into the river, after it caught fire. 

The Northampton County coroner did not return calls for additional information Sunday.

A spokesman for the Department of Labor said OSHA is investigating the accident. OSHA has six months to investigate, and no further information will be released until the investigation is completed.