Tree service owner charged in teen's fatal fall | News

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Tree service owner charged in teen's fatal fall

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- The owner of a tree service has been charged in the August death of a teenage boy who was working for him.

Jonathan Harves Wilkes, 37, has been charged with Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child, according to an arrest report from the Clay County Sheriff's Office.

Blake Bryant, 14, of Palatka fell from a 71-foot tree after he accidentally cut through his
safety harness while working for John Wilkes Tree Service in Middleburg.

Wilkes turned himself into CCSO on Monday at 1:40 p.m. He had an active warrant out for his arrest, which was issued on Sept. 19.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Bryant's normal duties included moving limbs and branches and his family had no idea that he was climbing trees.

Wilkes believed that Bryant was 16 years old, according to the affidavit, but a state statute restricts employment of minors under 18 in a logging occupation.

Wilkes is being held in the Clay County Jail on a $25,003 bond.


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