For the second time in less than a month, a driver has been killed by a falling tree, and now the father of one man killed three weeks ago, is urging change and encouraging others to speak up.
Waterbury resident, Art Marcelynas lost his son, James, when a rotted tree limb landed on his car as he was driving home from work in Columbia three weeks ago.
"It was a windy day,” Marcelynas recounts. “A tree was blown in front of his truck and fell right on his truck and he died."
Marcelynas told Eyewitness News that upon hearing of an incident in which a school bus driver in Avon lost his life when a similar incident occurred in which a tree limb fell on his bus windshield causing him to lose control and strike a utility pole, he decided to act.
"I couldn't believe it,” said Marcelynas. “Three weeks later the exact same circumstances."
To piece together the events of his son’s death, Marcelynas retraced his son’s last figurative steps.
"We visited the crash site, the day after it happened, basically, that tree was rotted as well,” Marcelynas describes. “It was covered in vines and the little bit of research I've done with a Google streets search, you could actually see, you could see it."
Following the loss of his son and the loss of a second life, Art told Eyewitness News he realizes the potential dangers for unsuspecting drivers along roadways in the state are due to rotting or unstable trees.
"I see it all the time now when I'm driving,” said Marcelynas. “I was aware of it before, but I’m much more aware of it now and really my message is to other people who are just driving by and not really paying attention."
He said he is now encouraging others to notice and report questionable trees to their town and cities.
"I’ve started with three municipalities and I got a good reaction from Waterbury,” he said. “I called in a tree just around the corner from my house that had a limb that was up high on an old grove oak and in three days it was gone."
With a phone call, Marcelynas said it could prevent another family from losing a loved one the way he lost his son.
"If you see a problem with a tree, just say something, report it to somebody, don't stop and take a picture,” he encourages. “Let’s not create a safety situation, but let’s get it reported so they can get it addressed."
He describes this action as making sense of a senseless tragedy.
“I think about James every day and I have my moments, but we are trying to move forward."
If you see a questionable or potentially dangerous tree along your commute or elsewhere, call your local public works. Marcelynas will keep encouraging state and local officials to be more proactive in addressing the issue as well.