YULEE, Fla. – Christopher “Adam” Nichols, a devoted father and beloved Little League baseball coach, was killed Saturday in a tree-cutting accident when a pine tree fell on him in Nassau County.
He was 33.
Nichols, who owned Adam Nichols Outdoor Services, had been hired to cut down trees at a Yulee home on Scarlet Oaks Court. He was working on his last one, a tall pine tree, when it fell toward him. Witnesses said Nichols tried to get out of the way, but slipped and fell.
Three people pulled Nichols out from under the tree and tried performing CPR to save him, but Nichols died of his injuries.
He leaves behind a wife, who is three months pregnant with twins, and two sons, ages 9 and 6.
His loved ones said they're still reeling from the shock of his sudden death.
“I think we still feel he is going to be walking in the door,” said Nate Burns, Nichols' brother-in-law.
Nichols' 9-year-old son was at the property with him Saturday, swimming in the pool at the house. He heard the tree go down, ran out and saw the witnesses trying to save his father.
“It was tough for Brodie to see that. The paramedics couldn't, with CPR, revive his dad,” Burns said.
Nichols started his landscaping and tree-trimming business at age 21, Burns said. Nichols' wife, Leah, is a teacher.
“He just got to know a lot of people and a lot of people respected him,” Burns said. “Everybody in town knew who he was. He was the guy that he would drive down the street and everybody would be waving at him.”
The community is heartbroken, and Nichols' family members are holding onto each other and their faith to make it through.
“He was a great leader, but he was also a guy that was the most fun to be around,” Burns said. “We know that God is watching over us, and Adam is in a better place now."
Nichols taught his sons to play baseball early and coached them at Yulee Little League. He was a hit with players and parents.
"(He was) very charismatic. He could bring the best out in any kid on the field. If they were having a bad day, he knew how to go out there and pump them up," said Gene Velardo, one of the coaches at Yulee Little League.
Parents and young players said they are saddened the coach won't be there when Yulee Little League starts its fall season.
"I was a close friend, team mom for many, many years. Just the whole community's not doing well at all," said parent Shelly Beaty.
Community members said they're sad that he's gone.
"Just the kind of guy you always wanted on your side. (He'd) do anything for anybody," Randy Richards said. "All of his players were his kids."
Family members and friends are now raising money for Leah Nichols and the children.
“Everybody knows with four kids, there is just a lot of financial needs that they are going to require,” Burns said.
The family has set up a YouCaring.com page that has raised over $18,000 in two days. To make a donation or leave a message for the family, visit https://www.youcaring.com/leah-nichols-and-kids-623994.
The visitation and funeral for Nichols will be held on Saturday at the First Baptist Church Fernandina Beach on South 8th Street. Visitation will be from 1-3 p.m., and the funeral will begin at 3 p.m.
His family members said everyone from the community is welcome to come and pray for them.