Escambia County Mourns Cantonment Man Killed In Tree-Cutting Accident

March 1, 2024

Escambia County has identified the Public Works employee killed in a trimming accident as 58-year-old David Owen of Cantonment.

Owen had worked for Escambia County for nearly 25 years.

“David Owe is the type of guy you’re never going to replace,” said his supervisor, Randy Brasch. “There’s not another David Owen out there. They don’t make them like him anymore.”

The accident happened about 9 a.m. at Detroit Boulevard and Cove Avenue. The crew member was pronounced deceased at the scene.

“Deputies discovered that county workers were cutting a tree when the tree swung and struck the boom arm,” the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “This knocked a 59-year-old male employee from the bucket to the ground. He was pronounced deceased by EMS.”

A preliminary investigation revealed that no harness or helmet was being worn during the accident, according to investigators.

Owen was an Equipment Operator III for Escambia County’s Public Works Department, a job he took great pride in, according to those who worked with him every day. The county said he would often arrive at work as early as 3:30 a.m. to ensure that he had time to enjoy his morning coffee and get ready for the workday, including starting up his coworkers’ computers and making sure their vehicles and keys were ready to go.

Owen had served as an equipment operator with the county since he was hired in April 1999.

“David would help anybody,” Brasch said. “Everybody in Cantonment probably knew David Owen and his black GMC truck. If David had $10 in his pocket and you needed $10, he would give it to you. He had a big heart. David would do without to help others.”

Floyd Heist worked alongside Owen for more than 20 years as an Equipment Operator IV, where they spent most days together cutting and trimming trees, driving around the county completing work orders, and just talking about the highs and lows of life as they worked.

“David and I were together 99% of the time,” Heist said. “We were like brothers.”

Just like brothers, Heist said they gave each other a hard time over little things – whether it was Owen’s small frame, cold-natured tendencies, obsession with tinkering with old trucks, or his daily breakfast of honey roasted peanuts, a Little Debbie snack cake, and a Code Red Mountain Dew.

Heist said he and Owen built a mutual trust and strong friendship over the years, and he wouldn’t have traded Owen as his partner for anyone else.

“He was a good friend,” Heist said. “He would take his shirt right off his back and give it to anybody.”

Owen had a keen eye and an incredible memory when it came to trees, Heist said, and he would often file away trees or potentially problematic limbs in his “Rolodex” to be addressed as needed.

“That man could spot trees on his day off, and when we didn’t have work orders, we would go back and he would remember them,” Heist said. “He’d be driving down the road and see a tree and file it away.”

As an extremely hard worker who loved his job, Heist said Owen hated rainy days that slowed down their work. He would get bored easily, never wanting to take a break or have a slow day.

“He was a worker that wanted to work 24/7, because cutting trees was what he enjoyed doing,” Heist said.

When he wasn’t working, Owen enjoyed tinkering with old trucks, often visiting the junkyard on the weekends to get parts for his next project. Owen also loved spending time with his grandchildren and family, especially his mother, who he visited daily.

“David Owen is already incredibly missed by his Escambia County family, and we join his family and loved ones in mourning and remembering what a special person he was,” County Administrator Wes Moreno said. “Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by this tragic loss, and we will continue to support our employees who were close to David as we grieve together. David was a special person who will be remembered fondly for many years to come.”

A visitation for David Owen will be held Thursday, March 7 from 11 a.m. to noon at Eastern Gate Memorial Funeral Home, 1985 W. Nine Mile Road in Pensacola, followed by a funeral service from noon to 1 p.m. An interment will occur from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Eastern Gate Memorial Gardens.


5 Responses to “Escambia County Mourns Cantonment Man Killed In Tree-Cutting Accident”

  1. derek on March 2nd, 2024 6:12 pm

    Special thanks to Mr David for his hard work and dedication the the residence of Escambia County. My condolences go out to the family during this hard time. Rest in Peace Mr. David and prayers for you and your family.

  2. J.h on March 1st, 2024 6:50 pm

    I had the pleasure of working around this gentleman he was always happy go lucky and always had something to say to change your mind set. And as other have said if your in need and he has it then he was more than willing to do without. You could always see him on his off day driving up and down 29 in his black truck sometimes with someone in the back. We have lost a great person and I know his family has lost a great provider for them. Always a pleasant person to be around.

  3. Don Brown on March 1st, 2024 1:21 pm

    I knew Daivd and Floyd well I worked with the tree trimmers for the power company for many yrs. 42 i,ve been on many of storm calls in the night to assist Floyd and David with trees on the powers lines and 99% of the time it was David and Floyd seeing the county driving all over the town without seeing David and honking horns and waving will be different for me I promise David and Floyd are my work buddys RIP DAVID WERE GONA KEEP THE ROADS SAFE AND FREE OF DANGER TREES SORRY FOR EVERYONES LOSS

  4. Tom Boatright on March 1st, 2024 12:36 pm

    David and I grew up in the same neighborhood.
    We lived about half a mile apart , we rode the same bus. Even though the bus would pick us up in front of our house, one of us would walk to the other’s house.
    Just to enjoy our talk time. We both became interested in cars about the same time.
    David was always quick to help out with anything. At times neither of us knew what we
    were doing. We learned what not to do from watching each other. It was comical at times! But it made the best memories.
    I saw David a few days prior at the county gas pumps. Something told me that I definitely needed to talk with him even though we were in a hurry.
    I’m so glad I did!!!
    We talked , and then hugged. That’s the first time we ever did that.
    The last thing I said to him was please say hello to your mom for me.

  5. Aaron Smith on March 1st, 2024 10:12 am

    David and Floyd were definitely a unique team.
    But all the Supervisors new that when needed these two were ready to go, just give them a call. Many a night and day they spent clearing trees out of the roads in Escambia County.

    R.I.P David.