RICHMOND, Va. — Severe storms are being blamed for the death of a 4-year-old boy who was struck by a tree that toppled while he was visiting a Richmond park with his father, police said.
Capt. Emmett Williams of the Richmond police said the boy was crushed by an old yellow tulip poplar tree that became uprooted during heavy winds and rains at Maymont Park shortly before 4 p.m.
The boy was pronounced dead at the scene. The father was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Maymont board member Mary Lynn Bayliss said workers with bullhorns were scrambling around the 100 acres of preserved woodlands and gardens to try to get people to safety.
“We’re absolutely devastated about this,” Bayliss said. “We have lots of old trees in this park. Old trees will do what they will do. Trees fall unfortunately.”
The park is city-owned but operated by a private foundation.
The grounds had been saturated by one of the wettest springs on record, including rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea days earlier. The roots of the tree that fell had completely come out of the ground.
Winds of 60 mph hammered parts of the state on Thursday, with limbs and trees toppled all over central Virginia.
The storm left more than 170,000 homes and businesses without power.
Statewide, the storm cut power to more than 104,000 Appalachian Power customers and 69,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers.
Transportation officials say downed trees also forced southbound Interstate 95 in Prince George County to be closed temporarily.
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