Tree Trimming Victim's Mom: Proving Paternity Too Much to Bear

Family says it is hard enough to deal with Joshua Pudsey's death and having to deal with proving he's the father of the newborn is almost too much to bear

While an East County family mourns the loss of a man killed in a La Mesa tree trimming accident, they say county officials are not allowing them to put the name of the deceased father on his baby’s birth certificate.

Debbi Anderson, the baby’s grandmother, spoke to NBC 7 about the child.

“He has the same ears as his dad had, same facial features, same attitude. I know who he dad was. He knows who his dad was. There are no family members that questions that,” Anderson said.

Joshua Pudsey was killed in November 2013, crushed by the weight of a tree he was trimming outside of one of his employers’ homes in La Mesa.

Three executives with the business, Three Frogs Inc., have been criminally charged. Cal/OSHA found Pudsey and his co-workers did not receive proper training on how to use the equipment to trim trees of that size.

Pudsey’s mother told NBC 7, when he was killed, his fiance was eight weeks pregnant. She said her son knew he was going to be a father and, she believes, he did not complain about the working conditions because he felt he had to provide for his future family.

Anderson said when the mother gave birth to her grandson, a county employee told them the father needed to be there to sign a declaration of paternity. Obviously, that was not possible.

NBC 7 reached out to county Health and Human Services officials who deferred questions to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). According to the CDPH, if "the father/parent is deceased and not married to the mother/parent"…"the unmarried mother/parent will be required to obtain an Adjudication of Facts of Parentage to add the deceased father/parent's name." That means the mother of Pudsey’s baby has to go to court and provide evidence he is indeed the father to get the name on the certificate.

Anderson said it’s hard enough the family has to deal with her son’s death and the criminal case against Three Frogs, Inc. Having to deal with proving her son’s parentage, she said, is almost too much to bear.

The CDPH said it could not provide an interview this week.

Anderson hopes state officials will change the mandate to allow for exceptions in particularly tragic cases.

Joshua Pudsey, 42, was killed when a large branch fell on him while trimming trees outside his employer’s home in November 2013. Investigators have determined Pudsey didn’t have enough training to be doing that trimming job. His mother says he was expecting a child at the time of his death. NBC 7’s Candice Nguyen reports.

Three Frogs, Inc. President David Scot Wolf, 48, Chief Operating Officer John Murphy, 36, and Chief Financial Officer Jonathan D. Cox, 34 have pleaded not guilty.

They are expected to be back in court August 26.

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