Tree hits car on Carroll Avenue

Photo by Carol Blymire.

A tree fell across Carroll Avenue, striking a moving vehicle, knocking down a power line, and sparking a small fire last weekend.

The Carroll Avenue bridge crossing Sligo Creek was closed late Sunday afternoon, Sept. 13, until the roadway was cleared.

Takoma Park police and fire departments, PEPCO and neighbors responded to the incident.

Jefferson Avenue resident Carol Blymire was on the scene and spoke to the driver of the struck car. She said the man, who she described as “older,” told her he saw the tree coming at him so he slammed on the brakes and ducked. He was able to get out of the car on his own through the back door and walk to a waiting stretcher. He was taken by ambulance to the Washington Adventist Hospital immediately next to the bridge on its north side.

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The fire as seen from down-slope on the south-western side of the bridge. Photo by Carol Blymire.

The slopes on the bridge’s south side are wooded, part of Sligo Creek Park. Blymire said the woods caught fire about five-to-ten minutes after the accident. PEPCO personnel extinguished it, she said. The Takoma Park Fire Department was not able to provide details of this incident, but a spokesperson said that only PEPCO can extinguish electrical fires, usually by turning off the power. Using water to extinguish an electrical fire would cause electrocution. Dry chemicals can be applied to an electrical fire, and both PEPCO and the fire department use them. Blymire said she saw foam or power being used.

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Sept. 14 photo shows a splintered trunk and stump, suggesting twisting action as a gust of wind brought the tree down. Photo by Bill Brown.

After the victim was taken to the hospital, his wife arrived at the accident scene in another car. The road to the hospital was blocked by the fallen tree. According to Blymire the wife was distraught so a police officer drove her to see her husband at the hospital via a circuitous route. Blymire followed with the wife’s car, which she parked and left at the hospital.

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The scene from the southern side of the bridge. Photo by Carol Blymire.

Returning the car keys to the wife, Blymire also met the accident victim at the hospital where she got his account. She said he appeared unhurt.

“That tree had been leaning for years.” said Blymire. “I called about it a few months ago, begging for it to be removed because I figured it wouldn’t last another winter/snow. No one seemed to want to take ownership of the problem, and now this happened.”

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The power line was still down the following morning. Photo by Bill Brown.

She called the Takoma Park city arborist, who told her it was not the city’s responsibility. Though within city boundaries, the tree is in Sligo Creek Park, which is administered by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. “I called the state and the county park service,” she said. She “never heard back from anyone with any action or next steps.”

The Takoma Park Police Department did not respond to information requests regarding this incident.