Man, 28, killed by falling tree during thunderstorm


Ocala police officers look over the tree that fell and killed a man while he waited in his car for a thunderstorm to pass at his Northeast 10th Court home in Ocala on Monday.

Alan Youngblood/Star-Banner
Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 9:38 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 9:38 a.m.

OCALA — A 28-year-old Ocala man was killed during a thunderstorm on Monday afternoon after a large oak tree crushed the car in which he sat.

Christopher Harris was in the driver's seat of a black Mitsubishi in the driveway at his home at 2316 NE 10th Court as a strong thunderstorm passed over the area just before 4:30 p.m., said Ocala Police Department Maj. Dennis Yonce.

Strong gusts accompanied the torrential rain. The combination caused an approximately 50-foot oak to weaken enough that it was uprooted.

The tree, located in the front yard of a neighboring house at 2326 NE 10th Court, fell parallel to the home, crushing a green Hyundai in that yard and then the Mitsubishi in which Harris sat.

“We heard a loud boom. We thought it was a lightning bolt, but then we looked out and we saw the tree fell and Chris' little brother was running out of the house screaming, ‘Someone call 911. He's dead,' ” said Angel DeRosa, who lives across the street from the two homes.

Ocala Fire Rescue arrived three minutes after the call was first received, said Assistant Fire Chief Brian Stoothoff.

Harris was pronounced dead at the scene.

Monday evening, Harris' grieving family gathered in front of the home. His grandparents arrived and embraced other members of the family as they sobbed together.

Harris' mother was traveling from Inverness to the scene on Monday evening.

“The mom moved not too long ago and Chris took over the house,” said DeRosa, who said Harris was hardworking and traveled to Gainesville every day where he worked at a bar.

“I feel so bad for his family,” she said.

The same storm brought about an inch of rain to Gainesville and gusts of wind up to 33 mph. Some hail was reported north of Micanopy in the Wacahoota Road area and in other areas of Alachua County.

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