1 dead, 1 injured after high winds topple tree, power lines onto work truck

Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

One man died and another man was injured Friday after a powerful wind gust toppled a large oak tree and power lines onto their work vehicle on Newman Road, according to James City County Police.

The passenger, Shawn Gregory Walker, 44, of Poquoson, died at the scene, James City County deputy police Chief Steve Rubino said.

The driver was trapped inside his 2006 Bones Tile Ford work truck, which had a trailer attached, for more than two hours while fire crews from James City and York counties worked to get him out, Rubino said. The driver was taken to VCU Medical Center in Richmond with serious injuries, Rubino said.

The incident took place at about 12:50 p.m. while the truck was driving south in the 7700 block of Newman Road between Riverview Road and North Cove Road, just south of York River State Park, Rubino said. The falling oak tree pulled down power lines onto the work truck.

Newman Road was still closed as of 5 p.m. Friday and was expected to stay closed for several more hours while Dominion Energy and the Virginia Department of Transportation worked to repair power lines and clear the road, Rubino said.

The National Weather Service originally issued a high wind advisory for the Williamsburg area Friday morning, and expanded that to a high wind warning through 6 a.m. Saturday. Winds were out of the northwest ranging from 25 to 40 mph, with gusts of more than 40 mph in some areas.

Nearly 400,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers across the state were without power as of 6 p.m. Friday, including 8,003 in the Williamsburg area — 7,104 in James City County, 530 in York County and 369 in Williamsburg according to the company’s online outage map.

Dominion spokeswoman Janell Hancock said all of its crews were out repairing and assessing downed power lines and working to restore power and did not yet have an estimate of when power would return to affected areas. She cautioned that people should not drive over, go near or touch downed power lines.

James City County battalion Chief Al Catlett said there were several downed trees, including one on Rochambeau Drive, as well as a downed cable line on Merrimac Trail. In Williamsburg, fire Chief Pat Dent said the fire department responded to a few calls of fallen trees, but there was no property damage or injuries.

The high winds also forced VDOT to suspend service of the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry, and it was the cause of a power outage that closed Bruton High School in York County Friday.

Williamsburg Parks and Recreation closed Waller Mill Park Friday due to the high winds and postponed a tennis program scheduled at Kiwanis Park.

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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