ASHEVILLE - The man killed June 17 after a tree fell on his SUV on the Biltmore Estate was a veteran New York City Fire Department firefighter, who had been celebrating his birthday and Father’s Day on a vacation to the mountains with his family.
Casey Skudin would have turned 46 on June 19, Jim Long, FDNY spokesperson, told the Citizen Times.
“He was appointed to the FDNY in January 2006 and had 16 years of service,” Long said of Skudin. “He worked in the Rockaway area of Queens with Ladder 137.”
He said Skudin was married to Angela Skudin and had two children.
Biltmore Estate spokesperson Marissa Jamison said an adult was killed the afternoon of June 17 on the entrance road after a tree fell during a windstorm, crashing down on a car containing three adults and one child, but she said she did not have the identification of the victims.
Angela Skudin posted about the tragedy on her Instagram account:
“It is with great sadness that I announced the passing of my Rock, my partner of 20 years @cskudin you are so very loved and so missed..our family will be healing for eternity,” she wrote, ending with a broken heart emoji.
“Our entire family was involved in a freak accident in Asheville, NC where a tree fell on our SUV on day 2 of a family vacation to celebrate Casey’s Birthday on Father’s Day. Our youngest has been hospitalized with mild injuries..our oldest son Ben & myself made it out with only a few scratches…please hug your loved ones because I can guarantee you all that nothing is guaranteed.”
From photos posted to her account, it appeared that the family had visited the Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville before the accident at Biltmore. Angela Skudin also posted photos of the car after the accident, showing it to be nearly totaled.
Jamison said the tree came down on the car during “a weather event involving high winds.”
According to the National Weather Service, “up to a tenth of an inch of rain” fell during the storm, and wind gusts up to 40 mph were measured at the Asheville Regional Airport around 4:11 p.m. June 17.
“That’s below 58 mph, which is what we consider severe level winds,” said Clay Chaney, meteorologist with the NWS in Greer, South Carolina.
“It could have been an outflow boundary ahead of the thunderstorm, produced by the thunderstorms that were crossing western Buncombe County, to help knock down the tree. The actual storm itself didn’t hit the Biltmore Estate until about 4:05 p.m.”
Buncombe County EMS and the Asheville Fire Department were the first responders on the scene, with assistance of “Biltmore onsite teams. Three adults and one child were in the car and were transported to Mission Hospital. The accident resulted in fatal injuries to one adult,” Jamison said in a statement June 18.
The Asheville Fire Department was dispatched to the scene at 3:45 p.m. June 17, after a 911 call came in at 3:44 p.m., said spokesperson Kelley Klope.
While she said she did not have the victim’s name, Klope said the victim had been the driver.
“He had died before we arrived on the scene,” she told the Citizen Times. “He had succumbed to his injuries from the tree fall.”
According to Long with the FDNY, Skudin was a decorated firefighter who was also a rescue surfer and lifeguard. In 2010, Skudin was awarded the Fire Chiefs Association Memorial Medal for his bravery in diving into the frigid ocean water in November 2009 during a rainstorm with wind gusts up to 39 mph to help rescue a surfer trapped underwater by his surfboard leash.
Skudin also held a degree in marine biology from UNC Wilmington, according to the FDNY.
Jamison said an investigation is underway but did not say which agency is investigating. Asheville Police Department spokesperson Bill Davis said Biltmore Police had responded to the accident and that the APD was not involved.
Angela Skudin ended her Instagram post:
“My sweet bear I thank you for choosing me to be the love of your life..right now I’m not sure how but with the love of this community we will move forward … thank you Long Beach New York, FDNY, Ashville FD for all the love & support.”
Karen Chávez is Content Coach/Investigations Editor for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. Tips? Call 828-712-6316, email, KChavez@CitizenTimes.com or follow on Twitter @KarenChavezACT.
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Veteran FDNY firefighter killed by falling tree on Biltmore Estate