Student credited with life-saving action in tree mishap

A student employee is being praised for helping save a UWGB staff member pinned beneath a tree last Tuesday morning (Aug. 18) as the two were cleaning storm debris from an arboretum trail.

The student, Samantha R. Braaten, was out with co-worker Dan Koetz, an arboretum specialist with the Facilities Management division, at about 9:30 a.m. to clear a fallen tree blocking a path near Mahon Creek on the south side of campus. When the tree shifted, campus police say, it landed across Koetz’s neck and upper body, making it difficult for him to breathe.

Braaten tried lifting the section of the trunk (about a foot in diameter) and used branches as levers to begin to relieve the pressure, and then dialed for help. As Braaten continued to keep the full weight off Koetz, facilities workers Lyle Uitenbroek and Nathan Rusch arrived. When the three still couldn’t free Koetz by lifting, Rusch grabbed a chain saw and began to cut sections away. Braaten then flagged down Public Safety officers Chad Kleman and David Jones, arriving on the scene.

Freed from under the tree, Koetz remained conscious but reported pain, and was transported by Green Bay Fire and Rescue responders. He was released from the hospital later that day. Both Police Chief Tom Kujawa and Facilities Director Paul Pinktson commended all involved in the rescue, especially the student, Braaten, for her potentially life-saving actions. Braaten, a political science major from Suamico, earned the Chancellor’s Medallion and her diploma earlier this summer.