State trooper escapes injury when tree falls on patrol car in high winds
A state trooper’s quick thinking during high winds Sunday likely helped him escape injury when a tree fell onto his patrol car.
The trooper was driving on Route 819 near Armbrust to a weather-related call at 9:17 p.m. when he noticed a tree along the road starting to fall, Trooper Steve Limani said.
“He tries to accelerate at the last second and, luckily, it catches the back third of his vehicle, crushing the back windshield, smashing all the glass inside the cruiser and it caused a lot of damage to the trunk,” Limani said.
Police are warning motorists to be aware of trees near the edges of roads in light of heavy wind gusts that blew through the region Sunday and early Monday. About 19,000 West Penn Power customers were without electricity Monday afternoon.
Westmoreland County crews responded to about 500 calls of downed trees and wires.
Wind gusts of 66 mph were recorded Sunday at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity, according to the National Weather Service. State police released a dash cam video of the tree falling Monday.
“Definitely in the next couple of days I would say be very, very vigilant when you’re driving,” Limani said, advising motorists to take an alternate route, if possible, to avoid back roads that have trees close to the edge. Some of those trees may have been weakened by the high winds.
“This could definitely be something that could happen to you as well,” Limani said.
There are two options for motorists who see a tree falling — slow down or accelerate, like the trooper did.
“It’s literally … fractions of a second between that tree landing on top of him on the roof or hitting the back part of the vehicle,” Limani said. “He was very lucky, we were very lucky. I think it’s a good lesson for people that are driving around just to pay attention just in case something like this were to ever possibly happen to them.”
The trooper returned to work Monday.
“He accelerated just a little bit and that little bit might’ve saved his life,” Limani said.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .