A highly decorated, veteran FDNY firefighter was killed in Asheville, North Carolina, when a tree fell on the SUV he was in during a windstorm.
Firefighter Casey Skudin, 45, of Ladder 137 in the Rockaways, was in the SUV around 4 p.m. when it was hit by the tree, the FDNY confirmed. Skudin, who lived in Long Beach, Long Island, had served in the department for 16 years.
The incident happened on the Biltmore Estate, a top tourist attraction in the city.
The trip was a family vacation to celebrate Skudin’s birthday, and Father’s Day, his wife, Angela Skudin, posted on Instagram. He would have turned 46 on Sunday.
Skudin was a multiple FDNY Medal recipient for his work in water rescues and helping Rockaway residents during Superstorm Sandy, according to the Rockaway Times.
“During a weather event involving high winds, a tree fell across a road on the estate entrance and struck a guest vehicle,” Biltmore spokesperson Marissa Jamison said in an email to the Asheville Citizen Times.
The estate’s offices were closed Saturday and no representatives were reachable for further details.
Skudin’s father, David, confirmed his death and said the other family members who were in the car are OK, though the child, who is 10, remains hospitalized. He declined to provide further details.
Angela Skudin said in her post that she and their older son, Ben, “made it out with only a few scratches,” but their younger son was still hospitalized “with mild injuries.”
She referred to Skudin as “my Rock, my partner of 20 years.”
“Our family will be healing for eternity,” she wrote, added a broken heart emoji.
ABC-13 Asheville reported they were taken to Mission Hospital in Asheville.
Fox Carolina reported there were multiple injuries, but did not have any further details.
An investigation into the incident is underway.
The 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate is a popular tourist attraction in the city, which is located in the western part of the state in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Built for Staten Island native George Vanderbilt, it opened in 1895 as the largest private home in the country, with 35 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms. It was opened to the public in 1930.
“This is a devastating tragedy and we are deeply saddened by this news,” the Biltmore said a statement. “Our heartfelt thoughts are with the family and their loved ones, and we are offering assistance at this time.”
Skudin is from a well-known surfing family that runs schools in Long Beach, the Rockaways, New Jersey’s Meadowlands and Puerto Rico.