Dick Cooper, 63, was found by his wife under the crane in the rainforest at Cape Tribulation.

Cooper, who lived at Cape Tribulation, left the construction industry about five years ago to manage, operate, and maintain the 48.5m research canopy crane, which gives researchers access to treetops.

The crane is run as a joint venture between James Cook and Griffith universities.

The freestanding construction tower crane carries a 55m long jib, which can be raised well above the canopy.

The Australian Canopy Crane is managed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management (CRC Rainforest), which is based at JCU Cairns.