1 dead, 3 injured when tree falls in NC forest

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BREVARD, N.C. (AP) — One motorist died and three others were critically injured when a large oak tree in a national forest in western North Carolina fell into a road and onto their vehicle, a local fire chief said.

The tree fell midday Saturday on two cars traveling on U.S. Highway 276 in the Pisgah National Forest, Brevard Fire Chief Bobby Cooper told the Asheville Citizen-Times. No storm had occurred at the time, he said.

The tree pushed in the roof of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, ran it off the road and down a bank toward the Davidson River, according to Cooper.

The vehicle “had four occupants and all four were trapped. Three of them were flown out with critical injuries to Mission Hospital (in Asheville) — one was deceased,” Cooper said. The occupants’ names weren’t immediately released.

The tree hit the hood and windshield of the other car, but the two people inside were OK, Cooper said.

U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Cathy Dowd said the agency will perform an assessment in the next few days to determine why the tree — 24 inches (61 centimeters) in diameter — fell. Cooper said he believed the tree fell due to rotting at its base.

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