Tragedy struck last week when the life of 46-year-old Stacey Weathers was claimed in a freak accident. The Tinton Falls woman was driving southbound on Route 34 in Colts Neck during a powerful nor’easter when a tree fell on her Mustang convertible, killing her. Family, friends and community have been left dumbfounded at the sudden loss of a woman who was known for her altruism, generosity and kindhearted nature.
For more than a decade, Weathers had served as the executive director of New Jersey’s chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, helping raise millions of dollars for much-needed research. Her daughter, 19-year-old Emilie Boman told ABC 7, “she never did it for the name, she just wanted to help people.”
Tree falls during NJ storm, killing woman
According to Colts Neck Police Chief Kevin A. Sauter, Weathers had been driving her vehicle down a tree-lined expanse of Route 34 when a tree from the northbound side fell on her car around 4:25 pm, delivering fatal injuries. Weathers was traveling alone at the time of the accident and was pronounced dead at the scene. It is believed that she died almost instantly.
“It was a tragedy. The timing had to be perfect. She had to be traveling at 50 mph at the exact time that tree had to fall. When God says it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go,” Police Chief Kevin A. Sauter told Asbury Park Press.
Authorities say they are still uncertain as to why the 100-foot tree snapped in half during a storm that affected the entire Jersey Shore. It wasn’t raining at the time, though the conditions were windy. The fallen tree accident is still under investigation.
Liability issues regarding falling branches and trees
This recent tragedy, labeled a “freak accident,” isn’t so rare after all. In fact, over the last five years, New York City has shelled out millions of dollars to settle lawsuits regarding fallen branches and trees that were allegedly poorly maintained.
In 2012, the city quietly settled a case brought by a young Google engineer who was left paralyzed after a rotted tree limb fell in Central Park. Sasha Balir-Goldensohn and his family received an $11.5 million settlement after it was found that the Central Park Conservancy had been aware of the tree’s condition and dangers it posed, but took no measures.
Under the same circumstances, New Jersey property owners may be held responsible for personal injuries or death caused by a poorly maintained tree. However, if a branch or limb happens to fall by “an act of God,” or an act of nature, the owner may not be held liable.
However, if proof exists that the owner was previously made ware of a hazardous condition such as fungal rot or infection, but took no action to prevent injury, victims may have a viable claim for damages.
Legal help for fallen tree branch injury victims in NJ
The New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Eisbrouch Marsh extend their deepest condolences to the family of Stacey Weathers. With more than 25 years experience investigating and litigating fallen tree incidents in the NJ and New York metro area, our firm understands the catastrophic consequences of such accidents. During a free case evaluation, we can help determine whether you’re entitled to seek compensatory damages for medical bills, lost income, emotional trauma and other losses. Set up your consultation by calling 201-561-8366.
- ABC 7 NY, HEAD OF NEW JERSEY CANCER SOCIETY KILLED WHEN TREE FALLS ON CAR IN COLTS NECK http://abc7ny.com/news/head-of-nj-cancer-society-killed-when-tree-falls-on-car-in-colts-neck/
- NJ.com, Family 'dumbfounded and numb' after Tinton Falls woman killed by falling tree, http://www.nj.com/monmouth/index.ssf/2015/10/tinton_falls_woman_killed_by_falling_tree_recalled.html
- App.com, Rt. 34 accident claims life of cancer society director, http://www.app.com/story/news/crime/jersey-mayhem/