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Tuesday, December 18 News

Police ID victim killed by a falling tree

STAMFORD — State police identified the man killed by a tree that fell on his car Friday afternoon as a 25-year-old New Jersey resident.

Police said Jonathan Rodriguez-Melendez, of Hawthorne, New Jersey, suffered fatal injuries in the accident — weeks before his 26th birthday.

Around 3:35 p.m., a tree fell on a Mini Cooper traveling south on Route 15 between exits 33 and 31, which is the Stamford-Greenwich stretch of the highway. On Twitter, Connecticut State Police initially reported the incident took place at exit 33 in Stamford.

Rodriguez-Melendez, the driver of the car, was declared dead at the scene. The vehicle’s only other passenger, also a New Jersey resident, was transported to Greenwich Hospital with “minor, non-life-threatening injuries,” police said.

“One occupant transported to the hospital for evaluation and one occupants pronounced deceased,” said Connecticut State Police spokeswoman Trooper First Class Kelly Grant.

Police said that as the car in question approached the Riverbank Road overpass, a “large” tree dislodged and fell directly on top of the vehicle. The car eventually came to a rest about a quarter of a mile south of the overpass, police said.

Police are blaming the accident on rain and “severe” crosswinds that resulted from Friday’s nor’easter. So far, this is the only reported death as a result of the storm.

The scene is still active, Grant said, and troopers continue to investigate. The highway was closed to traffic around exit 33 as police investigated the crash.

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