When strong winds hit Tidewater, tragedy can strike. We were saddened to read about how a man was killed last week when a tree fell on a work truck in James City County.
An oak tree fell on a truck in James City County on Friday claiming the life of 44-year-old Shawn Walker from Poquoson.
Officials told WAVY.com the incident occurred on Newman Road around 12:50 p.m. on Friday when strong winds blew the tree over. The construction truck was hauling a trailer.
Spokesperson Steve Rubino said the passenger was killed and the driver was trapped in the truck. The passenger was identified by police as the 44-year-old from Poquoson.
Shawn’s family told the local news media he was out with his boss, who was driving the truck. They were headed to install tile for a job when the massive oak tree struck their truck.
Kevin Walker, Shawn’s brother, told WAVY.com.
“The split-second timing they were driving and it came right across the hood and landed on the beginning of the hood, and the windshield, and took the truck in half.”
The victims were assisted by workers at a nearby farm who heard screams. Shawn was pronounced dead at the accident scene, but family members have many questions.
Our thoughts are with the family after this terrible and unexpected loss.
It took two hours for emergency crews to pull the driver out of the truck that was pinned down by a tree. The driver reportedly sustained serious injuries, but was alert and talking when was rescued from the truck, according to police. Crews freed Walker’s body from the truck just after 4 p.m.
The untimely death left a family without a breadwinner. WAVY.com reported Shawn was the sole provider for his family and his family urgently needs help. The family set up a GoFundMe.
Tree Fell on a Work Truck in James City County – The Second Death in Virginia
Two fatalities are linked to last week’s storms. As well as the death of Shawn Walker from Poquoson, a 6-year-old boy died in Chester County when a tree fell on his home, reported the Washington Post.
Every year, we see trees felled in Virginia in nor’easters like last week’s event, tropical storms, and hurricanes. On occasions, these trees fall onto homes and cars and may kill or seriously injure occupants.
We are sometimes asked if a landowner is liable for a rotten or untended tree that falls over in wind events and causes injuries.
In this video, Bill O’Mara of Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers explains this is a complicated area of the law.
You cannot sue a landowner under Virginia case law if the landowner committed no act of affirmative negligence. That means if the landowner did nothing to make that tree worse off than its natural state, there’s no grounds for a personal injury claim.
If a tree is visibly rotten or leaning into the road, and clearly visible it’s hard to hold that landowner liable unless he did something to that tree that made it more dangerous.
However, if trees are in VDOT’s right of way along a highway or a roadway, we would argue the department has a duty to keep those roads safe, to trim them back and keep drivers safe.
If you are out driving in windy weather, you should exercise extreme care when around trees or other fragile structures. Avoid going out in high wind advisories if possible and give yourself time to avoid falling objects if you are on the roads.
If you have been injured by a tree in Virginia or lost a loved one, you may have grounds to file a personal injury or a wrongful death case. Please call us at (757) 455-0077.