Officials: Roots Apparently Rotted 10 Inches Below Surface And Gave Way

DELAWARE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A sycamore tree crashed down on a tent in New Jersey Tuesday, killing a man and injuring his wife.

Miraculously, three children, who were also in the tent, were not injured.

The 46-year-old father was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife, 42, was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. She is currently listed in guarded condition. Their names have not been released, though they are from Somerset County.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports: Tragedy At New Jersey Campground

Campgoer Susan Holland, of Toms River, was asleep in her tent on a pristine bluff overlooking the Delaware River when she was woken up by the falling tree.

“It was a crack, a loud bang, almost like fireworks or a gunshot,” Holland said. “But then I heard the creaking and the sound of the leaves going down.”

Holland injured her foot as she rushed two campsites over to where the tree had come down. Howard said she spent the previous day with the family swimming and fishing in the river.

“We had a lovely day; my kids were playing with their kids. My son’s a little bit upset,” Holland said. “I just kind of said to them, ‘Look at the day you gave those kids, the last day with their dad.'”

“About four to five guys were in there and tried to lift the tree and it wouldnt even budge,” Holland told CBS 2’s Elizabeth Hur.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney On The Scene

State DEP spokesman Larry Ragonese said special equipment was needed to lift the tree off the couple.

Officials said the tree was about 75 feet tall and weighs several thousand pounds. It passed the seasonal inspection earlier this year. An examination of the tree after the crash showed the tree’s rotting roots, about 8 to 10 inches underground, that finally gave way.

“This is a case, a really tragic one, where, unfortunately, a tree that had some problems fell the exact moment. It’s a sad thing but something we could not have seen,” Ragonese told Hur.

State Environmental Protection spokeswoman Abbie Tang-Smith said the accident happened around 6 a.m. at the Bull’s Island Recreation Area along the Delaware River in Hunterdon County‘s Delaware Township.

The couple’s 12-year-old daughter, 10-year-old son and a 9-year-old cousin were picked up by family members.

“What we have is a tragic situation, kind of like lightning striking,” Ragonese told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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