A 57-year-old Roca man died Wednesday, four days after a tree hit him in the head.
Wade Wunderlich went out to cut down the tree on Saturday, part of a project he and his wife started nine months ago when they bought 100 acres 3 miles west of Roca.
Wunderlich cleaned sheds, moved machinery around and installed lights in the barn, said Sue Wunderlich, his wife of 16 months.
“We were just working on making a home together,” she said, “and I suppose that’s why he got hurt.”
Armed with a chainsaw, Wade Wunderlich cut down a tree Saturday afternoon at 840 Roca Road. As he did, the tree hit him in the head, Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner said Monday.
His wife went to check on him when she realized the chainsaw had been idling for a while, found him on the ground and called 911.
Rescue crews took Wunderlich to Bryan West Campus with a severe skull fracture and brain bleeds, and doctors rushed him into surgery to relieve brain swelling, Wagner said.
He was taken off life support Wednesday morning and died.
Wade Wunderlich grew up the oldest of three boys in a close-knit family, said his brother, Lee, 54. He had three sons himself: Joel, 33; Craig, 30; and Ben, 22.
"He was a good dad," Craig Wunderlich said, adding that he taught his sons how things worked, whether it was a combustion engine or construction basics.
"I'll never be able to forget that, the feeling, that understanding of why things are the way they are."
Lee Wunderlich said his older brother was forceful, confident and caring. He joked and chatted with people he knew and liked, but didn’t have much to say to strangers.
“If he didn’t know you, he wasn’t the guy who was going to run across the room and shake your hand,” Lee Wunderlich said. “But if you introduced yourself and said a few things he liked, he was going to talk your ear off.”
Wade Wunderlich spent his life around cars after growing up in Roca and graduating from Norris High School, his brother said.
He studied auto mechanics at Southeast Community College and cut his teeth working on cars at Dewey’s Auto Service in Lincoln, which he later bought. He sold the shop and moved to Omaha, but kept working as a mechanic.
For the last several years, the brothers worked for an Omaha-based appraisal company. Lee inspected commercial equipment in the field, and Wade worked in the office.
Wade Wunderlich loved Chryslers, just like his grandfather, dad, brothers and sons, his brother said, estimating they've owned hundreds over the years.
“That’s pretty much all we’ll ever drive or buy,” Lee Wunderlich said. “It’s kind of been bred into us.”
Wade and Sue Wunderlich recently got back from visiting her son in Reno and riding horses. They planned to ease off working their new place over the summer, take their horses camping and ride trails before they continued to build a life together.
“It was not fair that his life was so short,” she said. “He did so much and had so much to give.”