NC Zoo ID’s arborist who died in training accident; fund set up for 9-year-old daughter


ASHEBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina Zoo officials identified the person who died during a drill as Branson Joe Langley.

Langley, 38, fell from a tree during a drill in the Africa Exhibit, officials said. The North Carolina Department of Labor said Langley was an arborist employed at the zoological park.

The North Carolina Zoological Society announced Friday it set up a trust fund for Langley’s 9-year-old daughter.

“We will miss him, and we, as an organization, have decided to honor his memory and his life by establishing a trust fund to provide support to his precious 9-year-old daughter, Maggie,” a Facebook post from the NC Zoo Society.

Langley was engaged in an aerial rescue drill and fell 20-30 feet from a tree, according to zoo officials. As part of the rescue drill, a trained arborist goes into a tree to bring down another trained arborist.

“We had someone in the tree for the rescue when the accident happened,” said Pat Simmons, director of The North Carolina Zoo.

The Zoo closed for the day Thursday at 2 p.m. but will reopen on Friday and operate as normal.

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