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Driver escapes serious injury when falling tree lands on his car

April 29, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Except for some glass in his hair and a good scare, Hagerstown-area resident David S. Schwartz said he appeared to be OK on Sunday after a large tree landed on his Mercedes-Benz while he was driving to church.

“I thought I was going to die,” said Schwartz, who lives north of Hagerstown.

A man was using a chain saw to cut down the tree, which was in front of 645 Oak Hill Ave. and near the sidewalk along the southbound lane of Oak Hill Avenue, said Frank Near, 79, a neighbor who witnessed the incident.

Near said it appeared the tree was going to fall the wrong way. He was walking toward the man cutting the tree to let him know, “but I was too late,” he said.

A man ran out in the street to try to stop a car driving south on Oak Hill Avenue, but the car went around and the tree landed on it, Near said.

Schwartz, 81, was driving the Mercedes south on Oak Hill and was the only person in the car, Hagerstown Police Officer W.D. Oates said.

Hagerstown Police Officer Chris Little said police were investigating the incident, which was reported at about 10:45 a.m. Sunday. The incident occurred across the street from Schindel’s Pharmacy.

Schwartz was checked by Community Rescue Service at the accident scene, but refused to be taken to the hospital, police said.

Schwartz said he was driving his Mercedes E320 to Zion Reformed Church when a man yelled at him and then a tree hit his car.

The Mercedes’ hood and roof, including its sunroof, were damaged.

Schwartz said he was able to get out of the car on his own.

Police identified the man who was cutting the tree as Russell George Pugh of Martinsburg, W.Va.

A man who gave his name as Bill P. said he and Pugh were doing a tenant a favor by cutting down the tree. Bill said it was he who ran out in the street to try to hold traffic when the driver kept going through.

The tenant, who gave his name as Dave P., said he received a notice from the City of Hagerstown that some trees on the property were rotten and had to be cut down because they were dangerous. Another tree had been cut down and was lying in the yard.

Bill P. said he was Dave P.’s father.

Little said the tenant was William David Pettie Jr. and the other man was William David Pettie.

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