Early Christmas morning, a freak accident on the Garden State Parkway near Brookdale Service Area left two people dead. From The Star Ledger:

They were just minutes from their destination.
Joel Baudouin, 42, of Arlington, Mass., was on the Garden State Parkway early [Christmas morning]…with his two daughters, Rachele, 13, and Cassies, 11, along with his mother, Marie Vernet, 72, heading for his brother’s home in Belleville, where they intended to spend Christmas.
But moments after leaving the service area at about 1 a.m., a 40-foot tree fell onto the car, crushing the front and killing Baudouin and his mother, according to New Jersey State Police…His two daughters in the back were injured and pulled from the wrecked car by rescue workers.
Authorities said the car was in the center lane of the highway.

12 replies on “Christmas Day Tragedy In Bloomfield”

  1. So sad. It’s bad enough that those girls lost their dad, but their grandmother too. I hope their mom is still in the picture.

  2. Where was our blogger, Joel, to report on the sounds that the people made as they were crushed by the giant tree? He wasn’t there to report on the clean-up of the victims – towels, jaws of life?
    Hopefully, the details will be forthcoming. I still get a sick feeling about the dog hit by train and the graphicness of his ordeal.

  3. I must still be missing some valid point all of you Joel bashers are trying to make. How, exactly, is this story different from the story Joel posted? Really, I’m asking in all sincerity! Joel posted a sad story about an animal being hit by a train. Barista posted about a family being destroyed in a freak accident on Christmas Day. How is posting an awful story about an animal different from posting an awful story about humans? Please, enlighten me.
    Cathar? Roc? Anyone? Oh, I’m sure I’ll be sorry I asked.

  4. Karen Banda, yes, you should be sorry you asked. Joelscorp is a self-impressed twit who has nothing to say as a writer; he wrote a cliche=filled piece and few here would even know he blogs for NJ.com if the Baristas hadn’t promoted him the other day. (I suspect that he’s a personal friend of at least one of them.)
    This incident was a profound tragedy. Just that. But one the Baristas might not be above exploiting just a teensy bit. Given, that is, that our own little exchange here has accounted for two posts on a very slow day for “hits.”
    Now you should really rue that you asked. You might also wish to be much more thoughtful before you ask such dumb questions, and only play into the possible calculation of it all.

  5. My sincere condolences to the daughters and the rest of the family. Their world has been rocked and it will take many years to recover.

  6. Is anyone aware of any lawsuits from accidents caused by lack of maintenance on tollways?
    A reality check from a nj.com reader:
    Posted by skurtzer on 12/27/08 at 12:24AM
    Negligent maintenance on every state highway because in most cases, the State enjoys immunity from liability. No liability, no need to remove these useless diseased, dying and structurally weak trees that usually show signs of internal rot if a few minutes is taken during routine highway vegetation maintenance to inspect them. If the tree were forty feet in length as reported and hit the car in the center lane, then it was close to the shoulder of the highway. The shoulder is about 10 feet wide, the first lane is 10-12 feet and second lane is 10-12 feet. It could easily be along the grassy area on the side of the road and fall into the middle of the road. Weather may have provided the push, but negligent maintenance allowed the dangerous tree to exist in a spot where it was just a matter of when, rotten to the heart, it cracked and fell. Trees don’t heart rot overnight. It was a long time coming and a lot of indifference during that time. The Turnspike authority will fight this to the bitter end. You know, it’s not an acceptable cost of running a state highway – inspect the trees. Train your crews to look for more than external signs because even the most rotten tree can appear healthy without a brief but close inspection of the base, roots and structure of the tree. If a worker is mowing a segment of the highway or picking up trash, what would it take to train the worker to inspect the trees in the area where the work is done and contacting the DOT, a contractor or whomever to take the tree down. Hindsight is 20-20 but its in hindshight that’s where we learn how a system failed or repeat the failure. Repeats are where you have cars going 55 mph being hit by an object weighing ton. It’s just common sense. This is tragic, and our hearts go out to the family. But it’s no accident.

  7. Karen Banda, one is a first person account of something that might affect a normal person for a short while, graphically detailed in the prose of a great asseyist, one of many minor tragedies that happen all the time. Go to his blog, lots of comments. It’s then put on a community blog for no apparent reason that I can see.
    There are plenty of tragic stories, and I’ve plenty of rescue cred that gave medical help and adoption to injured animals. I’ve paid vet bills and given a loving home when personally involved, and also have “managed wildlife” with no regrets, no need for a published sob story. This was a minor news article.
    The accidental and absolute horrific change to a family losing a parent and grandparent in an instant with children witnessing it, and also injured, is no comparison on the same planet I live on.
    I’m not religious, but if ever a prayer should work, it would be that the children here can have happiness in the rest of their lives, because that ain’t gonna be easy. My sincere condolences to the family.
    That’s the difference, and I feel sorry for what obviously we all hope would never happen, yet unfortunately does.

  8. Geoff, you’re just repeating an ill informed “expert” with one of, I’m sure, many solutions to all our problems.
    A couple of highlights from a professional paper on national camp ground maintenance:
    “Structural weakening caused by heart and butt rot can be difficult to assess with complete confidence. Fruiting bodies, cavities, and exposed decay are reliable indications of rot, but they are not always present or conveniently visible. Heart rot damage in the middle or upper portion of the bole may not be apparent. Access to the boles above about 6 feet is difficult, costly, and time consuming. Complete hazard assessment requires substantial dedicated time.”
    “Heart and butt rots are fungus diseases that decay already dead heartwood in mostly older timber. Infected trees need not be especially large. Crown symptoms are not apparent because the tree is not physiologically weakened by heart rot. Trees structurally
    weakened by rot are predisposed to windthrow and breakage.”
    “Root diseases are persistent tree killers very difficult to eradicate. Disease centers
    continue to expand each year infecting and killing susceptible species. Simply cutting a
    dying or dead tree does not eliminate root disease. In fact, casual tree cutting may
    accelerate disease spread.”
    I’m not saying assessment of the trees isn’t necessary, just done professionally, (and at this point don’t know how TA handles this) not by a guy picking up litter or somebody that should be watching where he’s going on a tractor. Do you know the policy and who’s on staff?

  9. There is much that CAN be done to prevent these unfortunate accidents.
    I actively sought for years for Montclair to hire a Certified Tree Expert to initiate routine inspections of our Town’s trees, removing hazardous trees as soon as possible. This past Fall I was successful (getting elected helps) and our Town hired perhaps one of the best arborists in the state — Steve Schuckman.
    One of the first things he did was to mark hazardous trees for removal.
    Many of the trees that were frightening, it turns out, were on school property. One of the most frightening trees was on the property of the Montclair Pre-K, and another one in Rand Park, by the High School.
    This is not simply a matter of “an act of God.” There is no need to assume we can do nothing about these situations.
    We are fortunate to be in a situation where our trees can be evaluated.
    People have died in Montclair due to falling trees. We need to do everything we can to prevent these things from happening in the future.

  10. This was a minor news article.
    Pokey, most of what is posted here falls under that heading, so I’m sorry but I still don’t get it. Nice try though.
    And for the record, my heart aches for those poor children and the unimaginable pain this unfortunate, freak accident caused them and their family.

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