Family mourns young father killed in work accident

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Family grieving after young father dies in tree removal accident

RICHMOND, R.I. (WPRI) — A tree service worker died following an accident Tuesday afternoon at a Richmond home, police said Wednesday.

Richard Mopps, 25, of Coventry, succumbed to his injuries while being transported to Rhode Island Hospital, according to police.

Police said Mopps was using a skid steer loader to lift a 20-foot log outside 439 Gardiner Road when the log pitched downward, with one end hitting the ground and the other falling into the machine. 

The weight of the log bent and twisted the safety bar, according to police, pinning Mopps inside the driver’s compartment.

First responders performed CPR on Mopps after they and his Warwick Tree Service coworkers cut and removed the log and safety bar but unfortunately, he died in the rescue.

Police said Mopps’ death appears to be the result of a tragic accident.

Just hours beforehand, his wife Makayla had visited the work site with their 6-week-old son, Mason, and dropped off lunch.

She said she called him when she got home to let him know she made it back safely.

“He said, ‘OK babe. Love you.’ And that was the last words he said to me,” Makayla recalled.

Makayla said Mason was her husband’s biggest accomplishment.

“He was such a proud father, and I’m so sorry that he’s not here to be with his son,” she said.

On Wednesday, she was joined by several other family members who are equally devastated.

His older brother Anthony De Santo said just last weekend they had gone fishing, which was Ricky’s other big passion in life.

De Santo said Ricky took Makayla’s last name when the couple got married last December.​​​​​​​

“He had a rough upbringing, and he just wanted a fresh start,” De Santo said. “He finally got it and it was just taken away so fast.”

Ricky’s uncle Richard De Santo, who he’s named after, raised Ricky since he was an infant and was like a father to him.

”It was his son, his wife. He came last on everything. But when he had time on his own, he enjoyed fishing, being with the rest of the family,” he said.

Ricky’s cousin Amanda, who was like a sister to him, held his son and explained that Makayla won’t be alone in this.

”Unfortunately, it’s times like these bring family closer,” she said.

The family told Eyewitness News Ricky had worked with the tree company for a little more than a year, and previously worked in construction, kitchens and other outdoor jobs.

“He started cutting down trees and he loved it,” Anthony De Santo said. “He loved climbing trees and cutting them down and it’s just, from what I saw, it’s just a crazy accident.”

The family said they’re still working on funeral arrangements and plan to put a GoFundMe page together to help support Ricky’s wife and son.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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