PENN TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — A man has died after a massive tree came crashing down onto his house, trapping him in his bedroom in Westmoreland County.
Police say it happened in the 600 block of Deer Run Road by Baker School Road and Antler Hill Drive. The tree left a big, gaping hole in the back of the home. Debris is scattered all around the yard, and the inside looks like match sticks snapped in many pieces.
Allegheny County identified the man as 71-year-old Jay Zeleziak, who died from blunt force trauma of the pelvis and lower extremities.
His time of death was 6:11 a.m., authorities announced.
Richard Bane and his wife live down the street.
“It’s terrible and the house seems buckled from the weight of the tree coming down,” said Bane.
Around 2:45 a.m., emergency responders were able to get to the man, but it took them almost an hour and a half to get him out of the home. He was pinned between the tree and his bed, with the tree on his stomach and hips.
A doctor was called to the scene to treat the man while rescue crews tried to remove him from the house.
“We had a command doc with us from Forbes [Hospital] that was able to make access to the patient and provide care,” said Penn Township Deputy Emergency Management Director Jeremy Dixon.
The man was conscious and alert when he was carried out on a stretcher, then taken to Forbes Regional Hospital where he later died from his injuries. His name has not yet been released.
His wife was in another room nearby. She managed to get out safely and call 911.
Emergency responders say this was a very strategic rescue.
“The problem is we just can’t go in because now that the structure has been compromised, the weight of our rescuers and tools we carry with us, might cause further collapse and might cause harm to our rescuers,” said Dixon.
The township building inspector determined the home to be unsafe for the homeowners to live. As far as how the tree came down, crews believe the rain that fell late Tuesday night could be a factor, saturating the ground.
“Life can turn on a dime,” said Bane. “And boom, a tree falls down on you in the middle of the night.”
Dixon had a word of advice for homeowners.
“It’s a good time to look at your actual surroundings, and contact an arborist if needed and come out and check your trees for such issues,” said Dixon.