Prominent doctor crushed by tree

Kids spared in backseat
March 20, 2008 3:24:06 PM PDT
Strong winds are being blamed for an accident that killed a father in Westchester Thursday.Dr. John Corser was driving, with his two children strapped in the backseat, when a tree fell on the car. He was killed, while his children watched in horror.

Eyewitness News reporter Marcus Solis has the story from Cortlandt.

The tree was uprooted and thrown completely across the road. Dr. Corser never had a chance.

The car was barely recognizable and the victim's death was instant. The miracle is that his children were spared.

Thursday morning, the 55-year old doctor was killed when a tree crashed down on his green Mercedes. His 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter were uninjured.

"The front limb of the tree, shaped in a V or a Y, landed directly on top of the driver," state police Sergeant James Kranik said. "He was killed instantly. The rear limb landed on the trunk. {The kids} were in between the two limbs, and ultimately that's what saved them."

Dr. Corser was the director of HIV services at Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan. His wife, also a doctor, rushed to Westchester Medical Center after hearing of the accident. The family had moved to Croton from Brooklyn a couple of years ago and were active members of their church.

"His work with AIDS patients was obviously more of a mission to him than a profession, in the sense how he really helped out and was committed to so many people," said Fr. Michael Keane, pastor of Holy Name of Mary Church. "Which of course makes this even more of a tragedy."

"He was a great father," neighbor Ari Zaremba said. "I'd see him playing with his kids all the time. It's really heartbreaking that something like that could happen."

Police believe the tree had been weakened by Wednesday's rain and was toppled by wind. Furnace Dock Road, like many in the area, is lined by trees. Ironically, there has been active tree trimming underway. Unfortunately, it was not enough to prevent this tragic accident.

"Horrible, but I guess the county and the town realize they really needed to do some remedial work, and they've been doing it for a couple of months now," area resident Rosemary Stein said.

"I think about it all the time, because the trees are old," resident Mayfred McClelland said.

The New York City Health and Hospitals corporation issued a statement saying, "We are profoundly saddened by the death of our friend and colleague. Dr. Corser served as acting chief of medicine with great commitment, compassion and skill."