Video shows falling tree that killed FDNY firefighter at the Biltmore; family files lawsuit

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Thursday, July 21, 2022
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Video shows a tree falling onto Casey Skudin's car as the 16-year veteran of the FDNY drove his family into the Biltmore Estates in Asheville. Josh Einiger interviewed the victim's wife.

NORTH CAROLINA (WABC) -- A tragedy was captured on camera when a falling tree collapsed on a car, killing an FDNY firefighter in North Carolina.

Video shows the tree falling onto Casey Skudin's car as the 16-year veteran of the FDNY drove his family into the Biltmore Estates in Asheville on June 17.

Casey and his wife Angela were on vacation with their two sons in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Angela Skudin was recording their ride up the driveway of the historic estate when the tree fell on their car and onto Casey Skudin's neck.

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In addition to killing the firefighter, his wife and her two sons were injured.

Angela Skudin says she can't shake the memory of the time his life couldn't be saved.

"He was like just the literal best human I've ever met in my life, the second I saw him, he and I fell in love with each other at first sight," Angela Skudin said.

Their 19 years together ended in a heartbeat.

The firefighter was the senior man at the FDNY's ladder 135 in Rockaway Beach. Every day, he would ride his bike to work on the boardwalk near their home in Long Beach.

The same beach where for decades he saved countless people as a lifeguard.

The family is now suing the Biltmore estate for negligence, claiming management had rigged cables to hold up a rotten tree and failed to protect thousands of visitors who drove under it every day.

Included in the lawsuit were photographs that claimed to show inadequately installed cables to help keep the tree upright, rather than taking safety measures to cut the tree down.

Management denied claims of negligence.

Biltmore provided the following statement to News 13 on Wednesday:

"We received notification of a lawsuit filed by Arnold and Itkin Trial Lawyers on behalf of their clients, Angela Skudin and her two children. The complaint is regarding a tragic accident on our entrance road that resulted in fatal injuries to Ms. Skudin's husband, Casey, and injuries to their son. A portion of a tree fell during a period of high winds and struck the guest's vehicle as they entered the estate. There have been multiple eyewitness accounts of a short duration high wind event around that time. There are no words to express our deep sorrow for the Skudin family's unimaginable loss and we offer them our deepest sympathy. We are preparing our answer to this lawsuit and will not provide further details while in litigation. We adamantly deny all allegations of willful or intentional conduct on the part of Biltmore, as well as the allegations of negligence. We will present all of the facts about this heartbreaking accident through the legal process."

"Our primary concern is to make sure nobody else has anything like this happen to them again," Angela Skudin said.

She hopes her hero husband will save even more lives through his own tragedy.

"The family is concerned that this isn't the only tree at the Biltmore that poses a deadly threat to visitors, and we're performing an independent investigation to determine the extent of the threat and to make sure a similar tragedy doesn't befall another family," said Kyle Findley, the family's attorney.

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