20 Aug 2014
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Victim in Stump Grinder Accident Mourned

Federal officials are investigating the fatal mishap.

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The victim killed in a freak accident with a stump grinder in Portsmouth this week is being mourned.

Police identified the victim as Matthew Morasse, 43, of Rochester.

Morasse was killed while operating the grinder at a luxurious home at 260 Gosport Rd. Authorities called it an "industrial accident" and said he died from trauma to his body.

Industrial stump grinders like the one involved in Thursday's fatal accident have a powerful cutting wheel the size of a car tire. The spiked wheel spins extremely fast, shredding wood as the operator sweeps it through the stump.

Morasse worked for Rochester-based Urban Tree Service, which the homeowners contracted for landscaping work. He was using the grinder by himself at the time of the accident, authorities said.

"This was a tragic accident and we are all trying to understand how to cope with it," company president Ed Hopkins said in a statement. "I would like to extend our deepest sympathies and support to the family."

Authorities on Friday were still trying to figure out exactly how the accident happened. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident. The agency can fine companies for such industrial accidents if there's evidence of negligence.

The home Morasse was working at  was sold in January for $1.2 million.

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