- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 20, 2002

One man was killed and three persons were injured in Northeast during a fast-moving storm yesterday when lightning struck an oak tree that toppled onto a van and a truck.
The 51-year-old man, who died of severe head injury and upper body trauma, was a back-seat passenger in the van traveling south at Shepherd and 12th streets about 4 p.m., according to D.C. fire department and police reports. The pickup truck was traveling north.
"This tree was so big we didn't even realize the truck was under there until they started pulling it away," said Judith Ware, who lives in the 1100 block of Shepherd Street near the accident.
"You could tell that lightning struck the tree because the roots were all charred," said Alan Etter, a D.C. Fire Department spokesman.
Three survivors in the van including the female driver about 40 years of age, a 42-year-old woman in the front passenger seat, and a 58-year-old male passenger in the back were taken to Washington Hospital Center in Northwest with "potentially serious injuries not believed to be life-threatening," Mr. Etter said.
He said officials were concerned about internal injuries. The external injuries were scrapes and cuts.
The driver of the truck, Ian Desouza, was not injured, but the hood of his vehicle was smashed, and the windshield was shattered on the right side.
"I thought for a minute I better pull over to the side until it slows down," Mr. Desouza said. "I'll be honest with you, I didn't see the tree until it was down already."
After he hit the tree, a "guy got out of his vehicle and said, 'Are you OK?' I said, 'Yes, I'm fine, but let's check on those other people,'" Mr. Desouza said.
He said he and the other man pulled at the branches but that they were unable to get to the van.
JoAnne Johnson, who lives across the street from where the tree fell, said she heard the screech of brakes and then a loud crash.
"I opened the door, and I saw a young lady yelling, 'Please help me; please help me. I need to use a phone,'" she said.
She gave the woman her phone, but "her hands were shaking so much she couldn't even push the buttons."
Firefighters eventually tore the roof off to reach the men one of whom was dead.
Officials were attempting to contact the victim's next of kin before releasing his identity.
Almost 10,000 residences lost power from the storm, according to David Morehead, a Pepco spokesman. The outages occurred in the District as well as Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
About 7 p.m., the figure was down to 8,300 residences, Mr. Morehead said. That broke down to 5,950 in the District, 2,230 in Prince George's County, and 90 in Montgomery County.
"We will have extra crews working out there until everything's back up," Mr. Morehead said. "We'll keep at it until we do get everybody back up."

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