COLUMBIA TOWNSHIP. Mich. (WOOD) - Family members told 24 Hour News 8 that 44-year-old Frank Schaefer died Saturday after a tree branch hit him in the head.
The accident happened in the 47000 block of County Road 388 in Van Buren County's Columbia Township.
Schaefer's wife Ann Marie told 24 Hour News 8 her husband was cutting down several trees in their backyard around 2 p.m. She said he accomplished his goal of cutting down a large tree, but that the force of the falling tree brought down a dead limb off another tree. Ann Marie said she was 30 feet away at the time.
"I was walking towards him, and then it was just fast and he was down," she said.
That limb fell nearly 30 feet, according to police, but Ann Marie told us it fell more like 50 to 60 feet.
She performed CPR on her husband and called 911, but the direct hit caused immediate severe bleeding and head trauma to Frank.
He was airlifted to a Kalamazoo hospital where he was pronounced dead due to his injuries.
Ann Marie Schaefer was thankful there was enough time for her husband's family to say goodbye.
Family was a big part of Frank's life. In fact, it was so important, Ann Marie said, that he decided to add a third "family" besides his own and his wife's.
"He gave me the gift of a third family, with the young men from the fraternity," Ann Marie Schaefer said.
She explained that when her husband went back to Ferris State University to finish his degree, in his early 40s, he wanted back in his old fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha.
"I laughed. I said, 'Why?'" she remembered asking him.
"We weren't sure about having him come back," Kirk Brown, one of Frank's fraternity brothers told 24 Hour News 8. Brown said Schaefer quickly made a difference through his positive reinforcement and mentoring.
"He's a friend, a brother, and most importantly a role model," Brown said. "I've strived to be more like Frank every day."
Schaefer was in the process of getting his Master's degree through online courses with Walden University in Minnesota. His dream was to teach children with emotional and behavioral issues at the Behavioral Education Center in Lawrence, which is controlled by the Van Buren County Intermediate School District.
The family asks that instead of flowers, they hope people send donations to the Behavioral Education Center .
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