YORKVILLE — A Caledonia man died Thursday morning at the Ives Grove Golf Links after a tree fell and trapped him as he was mowing the grass.
William R. Cieszynski, 83, had been cutting the rough at Ives Grove for more than two decades, taking great pride in a job he loved.
“He loved it,” said wife Rita Cieszynski. “He loved that job. He loved it more than golfing.”
It was reported shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday that a tree had fallen on Cieszynski and trapped the worker underneath, according to a media release from the Racine County Sheriff’s Office.
Upon arrival, deputies and rescue personnel found the man on a large riding lawn mower, still seated in the seat, with his upper torso pinned between a large branch and the steering wheel of the mower, according to the release. Cieszynski was pronounced dead at the scene.
The cause of death is believed
to be from the injuries he sustained from the tree branch falling on him, Racine County Medical Examiner Michael Payne said.
It appeared the man was mowing close to a tree when a roll bar above the driver’s seat hit a branch, causing it to fall on the man, said Detective Chad Schulman of the Sheriff’s Office.
The tree was partially rotted, which likely caused it to break easier, he said.
Rita Cieszynski said she doesn’t believe her husband would have run into a tree on the golf course, given his intimate knowledge of grounds. “He knew that course like the back of his hand,” she said.
Instead, Rita Cieszynski said the accident was more likely the result of a heart attack or stroke, of which her husband had a history.
Cieszynski was employed by H&H Fairway Enterprises Inc., which is contracted by Racine County to operate and maintain the Ives Grove Golf links.
“It’s just a tragedy; we’re certainly shook here,” said H&H president Pete Eitel, who was hired in 1990 — the same year as Cieszynski.
The grounds crew member was a reliable veteran at the course and a longtime friend, Eitel said, “It’s a terrible loss and our main concern is how the family is doing.”
Cieszynski, a Korean War veteran, was married to Rita for 58 years and together the couple had made nearly 20 trips to Hawaii.
Family, she said, was one of the few things her husband loved more than his time on the course, including his grandchild and great-grandchild.
Cieszynski would have turned 84 years old the weekend after Father’s Day.