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Falling tree kills woman

May 15, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

A Harpers Ferry, W.Va., woman was killed Tuesday when a tree fell on the vehicle she was driving while she was warning other motorists about an accident on W.Va. 9, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department said.

Gloria Jeanette Oaks, 49, of Route 2, Harpers Ferry, was pronounced dead at the scene, said Cpl. William Parker of the sheriff's department.

Oaks drove past an accident involving two other vehicles and put on her emergency flashers to alert oncoming traffic to the crash as she headed up the Blue Ridge Mountain, said Lt. Robert E. Shirley of the sheriff's department.

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The two-car accident occurred about 4 p.m. when Arcadio Rios-Cruz, 39, of Winchester, Va., crossed the center line on W.Va. 9 and collided with a car driven by Deborah L. McCauley, 35, of 35 Cloverdale Heights, Charles Town, W.Va., Shirley said.

The wreck occurred just east of the Bloomery Bridge, which crosses the Shenandoah River east of Charles Town.

Oaks was driving east on W.Va. 9 and drove past the scene of the accident, Shirley said. About a quarter-mile up the road, a large tree uprooted and fell on Oaks' car, crushing it in the middle, Shirley said.

Authorities think the tree was uprooted when high winds and rain began passing through the area, Shirley said.

"If it would have been a foot toward the front or the back, it probably would have gotten the car and not her," Shirley said.

Rios-Cruz, of 30 Bellview Ave., Winchester, was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Tuesday night, a hospital spokeswoman said.

McCauley and her two daughters, Allison, 9, and Courtney, 15, were taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Shirley said. The conditions of the three people were not available Tuesday night.

Trees fell in the area when the high winds and rain went through, police said.

When ambulances were coming down the Blue Ridge Mountain to the first crash, they could not get through because of the tree that had fallen on Oaks' car, Parker said.

When rescue officials got out of their vehicles at the scene of Oaks' car, another large tree fell along the side of the highway, Parker said.

There was nothing to indicate that the crash involving Rios-Cruz and McCauley was weather-related, Shirley said.

Rios-Cruz, who was heading east on W.Va. 9, was entering a sharp curve when he continued straight and struck McCauley's car, which was headed west, Shirley said.

W.Va. 9 was shut down for several hours Tuesday afternoon and evening while rescue officials cleaned up the scene.

In Morgan County, U.S. 522 was shut down in part for about six hours Tuesday when winds knocked a tree and a power line onto the roadway. It was completely shut down from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and was opened for one lane until 9 p.m.

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