A tragic accident in Connecticut caused the death of a Massachusetts man last week. Last Thursday, while the man was driving south on Connecticut’s Merritt Parkway in his 2008 Lincoln Town Car, a tree fell and crushed him and his car. The accident happened during a powerful storm between exits 34 and 35 near the Wire Mill Road overpass. The man was 74-years-old.
There were two passengers in his vehicle at the time: an 84-year-old woman from Massachusetts and a 24-year-old woman from New York. The 84-year-old fractured her sternum and was rushed to Stamford Hospital. The 24-year-old received no injuries.
The vehicle was crushed by the tree which fell from the shoulder of the road. The windows were blown out and the roof had been considerably flattened. Investigators believe the man died upon impact. It took an hour to get the survivors out of the crunched vehicle. Both were capable of communicating with rescue crew members as they cleared out the wreckage.
In a similar case from June 2007, a couple was killed by a falling tree branch in their vehicle driving down the same road. Their two children survived the incident.
After the 2007 accident, the safety policy surrounding trees on the parkway was reviewed. The Department of Transportation says that tree maintenance is an everyday activity for their employees. Regardless, a lawsuit has been filed for the family of the 2007 incident. The suit looks to receive $15 million in compensation.
It is therefore likely that the family of the man killed and the victims from the accident could also bring a lawsuit. Cities and states have a duty to keep streets reasonably safe for drivers and pedestrians. When they fail to do this, they are often held liable for the damages that result.
Source: Westport News, “Massachusetts man killed by fallen tree on Merritt Parkway,” John Nickerson and Jonathan Lucas, 6/24/2011.