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74-Year-Old New Jersey Man Dies After Tree Falls On Home

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HOPATCONG, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Strong winds proved fatal for a man in Sussex County, N.J. Thursday after a tree came down on his home, killing him.

As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, when police arrived at the home on Maxim Drive in Hopatcong, they found 74-year-old Frederick Dalton dead in an upstairs living room. The tree and part of the roof were on top of him, police said.

Dalton was in ill-health and was sitting in a living room chair when the 80-foot tree split the home in half, Slattery reported.

Tree falls on Hoptacong house, killing homeowner. (Credit: Hopatcong Police)

Tree falls on Hoptacong house, killing homeowner. (Credit: Hopatcong Police)

Neighbor James Beeh was next door with his family when the tree fell.

“It’s very scary. It’s upsetting. Everyone inside was upset,” Beeh said. “I was sitting in the living room and I just heard the crash. I started yelling for Fred and no response.”

Debris from the roof also collapsed on a kerosene heater, sparking a small fire.

A police officer, who extinguished the blaze, was treated at a nearby hospital after inhaling smoke and chemicals from the fire extinguisher, Hopatcong Police Lt. Thomas Kmetz said.

Officials said winds in the area had topped out at 60 miles an hour.

“It was the worst I’d ever seen in 23 years. It landed right on top of him,” Lt. Kmetz said.

Dalton’s wife, who is a bus driver, was not at home when the tree fell. The tree not only demolished the Dalton’s home but also struck a house on the other side, Slattery reported.

Two dogs were rescued from the home unharmed.

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