Tree that killed motorist on VDOT right-of-way - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Tree that killed motorist on VDOT right-of-way

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(Fairfax County Police Department Twitter @fairfaxpolice) (Fairfax County Police Department Twitter @fairfaxpolice)
Great Falls Tree Monday prior to fall VIEWER PHOTO/ Ruth Flores Great Falls Tree Monday prior to fall VIEWER PHOTO/ Ruth Flores
Albert Carl Roeth III (CREDIT: Roeth family photo) Albert Carl Roeth III (CREDIT: Roeth family photo)
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GREAT FALLS, Va. -

The man who was crushed around 6:30 Tuesday evening, when the tree came down on his car on Georgetown Pike, has now been identified as 64-year-old Albert Carl Roeth III. According to land records, Roeth had recently purchased a house on Georgetown Pike, less than a mile from the fatal accident.

The tree that came down suddenly stood on the VDOT right-of-way along Georgetown Pike.

A recent neighborhood snapshot of the tree that fell shows that most of it was lifeless, but, according to a spokeswoman for VDOT, there is no record that anyone had called to complain about the tree. Fairfax County's Urban Forester agrees. "I'm not aware of any type of complaints," said forester Michael Knapp, "or any type of citizen observation where they called our office (or anyone else) and complained about the tree being dead or hazardous."

Once on the scene, Tuesday night, urban forester Michael Knapp determined that a second old tree (near the one that had fallen) was also suffering from internal rot. A state work crew felled that tree around dawn.

County urban forester Knapp also examined a couple of other old trees, nearby, at the busy corner of Georgetown Pike and Walker Road. Landowner Ralph Lazaro, a retired dentist, says neighbors have urged him to keep those trees for more than 30 years.

"Here we are, today," said Dr. Lazaro, shaking his head. "With two trees, more traffic, turn lane problems. And, to be honest with you, I just can't sit silent, anymore."

After Tuesday's accident, Dr. Lazaro has changed his mind, and will ask VDOT to remove the two other old trees on the corner.

Joan Morris, the spokeswoman for VDOT says the agency feels "horrible" about the fact that an old tree fell down and killed a motorist.

Morris confirmed that the agency does not survey all trees along state roadways, because, she said, there are too many of them. 

The spokeswoman urges anyone who believes a tree may be in danger of falling to report its location to VDOT.


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