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Father Killed By Falling Tree While Camping With Family In New Jersey

DELAWARE TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) – A father was killed and his wife seriously injured after a large tree fell onto their tent while camping at a New Jersey campground.

The accident happened at about 6 a.m. Tuesday at the Bulls Island Recreation Area in Delaware Township, Hunterdon County.

The Bulls Island Recreation Area is approximately 60 miles north of Philadelphia.

According to authorities, the tree fell on a tent occupied by a Bound Brook, Somerset County family that had been camping overnight at the site.

State Park Police say William Arias, 46, was struck by the tree and killed. His wife, Elcetia, 42, was extricated from the debris and was flown to a Trenton hospital. She is currently in guarded condition. Their children, a son, age 10 and daughter, age 12, and a 9-year-old cousin were not injured.

The fallen tree is said to be an adult Sycamore tree which stood about 75 feet tall and weighed “several thousand pounds”.

Officials say the tree passed the seasonal inspection earlier this year and what happened early Tuesday morning, no one could have foreseen.

“You can’t know that a healthy looking tree might have some problems underneath so you do your best,” Larry Ragonese of the state Department of Environmental Protection said.

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Preliminarily, officials say their investigation revealed that the tree had rotting roots about 8 to 10 inches underground.

“There was absolutely no sign of this rot. All of the rot was below the surface. There was nothing visible,” John Trontis, also of the state Department of Environmental Protection explained.

So authorities maintain what happened to the Arias family was a terrible, freak accident.

Authorities say while their investigation and clean up continue, they will keep six of the 44 family campsites closed to the public.

Reported by Elizabeth Hur, CBS 3

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  • Sam Skwirl

    Ive got a 100ft tall trees behind my house… They must be more than 100 years old seeing how my house was built in 1920. Plus the base is about 7 feet in diameter.I always tell my wife that those trees will fall over one day and flatten our entire 3 story house into the basement. I always worry when the wind kicks up, they are weighted towards our property as well sitting on a hill back there. ….One year a limb fell on our garage and punched the end of itself through the garage roof and stuck out of the top of the garage. The limb alone was 12″ in diameter and weighed in at about 300lbs.

  • Lu

    How sad. This sort of thing seems to happen more than we realize. A few years ago, a child was killed on Long Island when a huge branch fell on her. And just last year, a baby was killed, and her mother critically injured, in Central Park in New York when a giant branch from a honey locust tree suddenly gave way.

  • glimmertwins

    This is terribly sad. A few years ago, a huge maple tree (4 ft in diameter) fell and smashed our car and damaged our house. It had beautiful leaves in the summer, and gorgeous fall colors. We had no idea that it was rotting from the inside. There were no roots and the trunk was hollow. It was the first day of Christmas vacation, and it fell at the exact time my husband would be driving our kids to school. The tree was 100 years old and we escaped a potential tragedy by one day. My heart goes out to this family.

  • Valerie Kaste

    How horrible. My prayers are with the family. :(

  • Leighann Harris

    My prayers are with this family. I can’t imagine going through this. :o(

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