A longtime employee for a Bernardsville construction company was killed Thursday afternoon when his utility truck was crushed by a tree that fell on his vehicle on Mount Airy Road in Bernards Township, police said.
The employee of HW Alward Construction was killed in the accident that closed the roadway for nearly four hours, Bernards Township Police Chief Brian Bobowicz said. The victim's identity was not immediately released.
The road was closed from shortly after 3 p.m. to about 6:45 p.m., Bobowicz said.
The chief said township police responded at 3:06 p.m. to a report of a one-vehicle accident on Mount Airy Road in the area of the Somerset Hills YMCA and Holy Cross Cemetery involving a fallen tree. Upon arrival, the male driver was deceased, Bobowicz said.
A very large tree top had snapped from the base trunk landing directly on the roof of the Ford utility truck, Bobowicz said. The truck is owned by HW Alward Inc. Construction Co., based on Mount Airy Road in Bernardsville, he said.
Basking Ridge Fire Co. spokesman and ex-chief Jack McGrath said the fire company and EMS units responded at 3:13 p.m. to the accident, opposite 140 Mount Airy Road, to find that a utility work truck had been struck by a falling tree which was laying across the roadway. The roof of the vehicle was crushed bending the doors and pinning the driver inside the truck, McGrath said.
The truck was being operated by a 30-plus-year employee of Alward Construction, Bobowicz said. Morristown Medical Center's Mobile Intensive Care Unit arrived and pronounced the victim dead, he said.
Basking Ridge Fire Capt. Ted Renz established command and immediately requested back up from the Liberty Corner Fire Company, and from the Lyons VA Hospital Fire Department. McGrath said that after the man inside was pronounced deceased, the rescue works had to await the arrival of the county’s Fatality Unit and the medical examiner before extrication could begin.
Freeing the driver was made more difficult by a crushed roof and bent doors, McGrath said.
McGrath said he was safety officer during the removal process while Liberty Corner Chief Marc Friedman was the Operations Officer, with First Assistant Chief Pete Aprahamian of Liberty Corner Fire directing the work.
The fire companies extricated the victim at the direction of the NJ Regional Medical Examiner's Office from Newark, Bobowicz said. Rescue volunteers left the scene at about 6:10 a.m., police said.
The Somerset County Prosecutors Office CAR Team responded to assist with the diagramming of the accident scene, Bobowicz said. The Somerset County road department cleared the roadway.