A MAN died when the tree he was helping to cut down suddenly split and toppled over on to him.
The young victim was working near one of several holiday-let chalets in secluded woodland at Whittle Dene, near Ovington, Northumberland.
Rescuers were forced to negotiate a narrow sloping track with a small wooden bridge across a stream in their rescue bid.
But they were unable to save the victim, who has not yet been named.
Last night the torn bark and broken trunk of the tree bore testimony to the tragedy, which stunned villagers who regularly use the area for walking their dogs.
Dawn Jordon, of Ovington, who takes her pedigree poodle Millie through the dene every day, said: “The chalets have been there for years and a couple of them are being renewed. There are just a handful in a little woodland area which is very popular in summer.
“I don’t know the man who died but the chalets tend to belong either to people who have had them in the family for years, or come on holiday from the town.”
One man in a nearby chalet said last night: “I wasn’t here when the accident happened and know very little about it but it does come as a shock.”
Ovington villager Doreen Mate said: “I was taking my dog down the lane as usual and all the fire engines, ambulances and police cars were there.
“I understand someone who was moving into one of the chalets was helping another man cut the tree down when it fell.”
A Northumbria Police spokesman has said: “At 1.39pm police received a report from the ambulance service about an injured man at Ovington in Northumberland.
“Police and the ambulance service attended but the man was pronounced dead at the scene. Inquiries are ongoing.”
Someone moving into one of the chalets was helping another man cut the tree down when it fell