Columbia husband and father falls putting up Christmas lights and dies

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Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 8:27 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 11, 2021 at 10:57 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A Columbia family is mourning the loss of their loved one after he fell off the roof while decorating for Christmas. Thirty-one-year-old Joe Cocco leaves behind a wife and two young girls who will now face Christmas alone this year.

His family is grieving and doctors say this happens all too often around the holidays.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2019 14,800 people were treated for holiday decorating-related injuries and on average there are 160 injuries a day during the holiday season.

Cocco’s family says he was a hardworking dad who lived to make his wife and daughters happy.

Debbie Stewart, Joe’s Mother-in-Law, says Christmas was a big big deal to him and his family.

“Hailey was inside decorating and he was outside getting the lights up so he could surprise the girls,” Stewart said.

While up on the roof to surprise his family, he fell. Doctors originally said he would be paralyzed from the neck down, but then he took a turn for the worse and died earlier this week.

Hailey’s Sister Shayla Stewart says it blindsided them all.

“Hailey was hopeful in the beginning and so was Joe,” Stewart said.

Prisma Health Orthopedic Surgeon Chris Mazoue says accidents like Cocco’s happen most frequently when people get on step stools and they’re not secure.

“Especially if they reach too far out to put a star on the tree or light on the roof a little further away than needed to be,” Mazoue said.

In Cocco’s case, they believe the weather may have been a contributing factor. Stewart says Joe had mentioned the weather was windy.

“Just weather-wise lookout for any windy weather, just be really careful,” Stewart said.

Now Joe’s family just tries to move on from here. They say it feels like a bad dream.

The Cocco family has received a lot of help from the community following his death, and if you would like to help, visit the link here.

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