Fallen Tree That Killed Camper was in 'Decent Shape'

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June 29, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Click here to watch a video, courtesy of the Star-Ledger, about the tragic ccident that killed a camper in New Jersey.

Officials say the large tree that crashed down on a family camping at the Bull’s Island campground Tuesday morning (June 28) snapped at the root but had passed the seasonal inspection of trees earlier this year, the Star-Ledger reported.

An adult sycamore weighing "several thousand pounds" fell around 6 a.m. on a sleeping family, killing a 46-year-old man from Somerset County and injuring his wife, said spokeswoman Abbie Tang-Smith of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The victims have not been identified. The 42-year-old wife is currently hospitalized at Helene Fuld Medical Center in Trenton. She was flown by helicopter and was in critical condition but has improved to guarded condition, officials said.

"This tree, the one that fell, was fully leafed and seemingly in decent shape," said DEP spokesman Larry Ragonese.

Regional forester David Johnson was on scene this morning examining the tree for an hour and a half.

The tree had passed inspection earlier this year, and appeared leafy and full.

"The problem was 8 to 10 inches beneath the ground," he said. "It was biologically functioning but there’s a difference between biologically functioning and structurally sound," Johnson said.

The three children who were also in the tent escaped unharmed. They were the couple’s 10-year-old son, 12-year-old daughter and their cousin, a 9-year-old boy, Tang-Smith said. The children were taken to park headquarters where relatives picked them up around 11 a.m.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. State park police arrived within minutes of the 911 call at 6:05 a.m.

"The tree literally crushed this guy, and he was dead when they found him," said Ragonese. The family was camping at an approved site.

The tree was removed from the site and campers at the adjacent four campsites have left. The campground was fully booked for the season, according to Ragonese.

Last fiscal year, about 370,000 campers visited the Bull’s Island campgrounds at the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, Tang-Smith said.

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