Tree falls on car on GSP, kills 2

December 26, 2008 1:20:31 PM PST
A 40-foot tall tree fell on the car of a Massachusetts family headed to a Christmas celebration in Essex County early Thursday, killing a man and his elderly mother and injuring his two daughters. Joel Baudouin, 42, of Arlington, Mass. was driving in the center lane of the Garden State Parkway in Bloomfield when the accident occurred shortly after 1 a.m., state police said. His 72-year-old mother, Marie Vernet of Dorchester, Mass., was in the front passenger seat, and his daughters, 13-year-old Rachele Baudouin and 11-year-old Cassies Baudouin, were in the back seat.

The four were headed to the Belleville home of Joel Baudouin's brother, where they planned to attend an annual Christmas gathering with relatives. They had just left the Parkway's Brookdale Service area, where they had stopped to get some food, and were just minutes away from their destination when the accident occurred.

Both adults were crushed by the tree and pronounced dead at the scene. The two girls were pulled from the car by rescue crews and taken to University Hospital in Newark, where they were listed in satisfactory condition Thursday night. Officials said Rachele Baudouin broke her right leg, while her sister sustained minor injuries.

Family members declined to comment about the accident Thursday night.

Authorities were trying to determine what caused the tree to fall. A storm had soaked the region with rain on Wednesday, and winds in the area were blowing at about 40 mph at the time of the accident, officials said.

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