2 dead after severe storms with straight-line winds hit Long Island, Connecticut

COMMACK, Suffolk County (WABC) -- Cleanup efforts continued in parts of the Tri-State area Tuesday after severe thunderstorms that left at least two people dead.

Western and central Suffolk County on Long Island and parts of Connecticut bore the brunt of Sunday's storms.

Thousands of customers on Long Island remained without power Tuesday as work crews continued removing downed trees as part of the effort to get electricity back on.

A woman who was swimming off of Fire Island drowned as a result of the quick moving storm.

Someone called 911 when they saw the woman's body floating near the shore. That person then rode a paddleboard out in the water and kept the woman afloat until the Marine Bureau could respond.

Sadly, she could not be revived. She has been identified as 67-year-old Barbara Langbecker, of Manhattan.

Watch: Suffolk County officials provide update on storm damage:

In Connecticut, 54-year-old David Schmerzler was killed when a tree limb landed on his car at around 2:16 p.m. on Sturges Highway in Fairfield.

His wife, Donna, suffered minor injuries, while his adult daughter in the backseat was not injured. Officials credit him with saving their lives.

The tree came down in two parts, with Schmerzler taking evasive action to avoid the first branch.

He and his wife were high school sweethearts, and Schmerzler was the president of The Patterson Club, a country club. Just this weekend, he and his son won a golf tournament at the club
Members gathered to remember and reflect on a man beloved by so many.

"We were able to simply share stories, memories, triumphs, some laughs even, about Mr. Schmerzler," general manager Matt Dossey said.

Across the area, sudden straight-line winds brought down trees in Huntington east through Commack and from around Bay Shore through Oakdale.

The National Weather Service reports that there was no evidence of rotation found, but the damage was consistent with straight-line winds and downbursts.

Tens of thousands of residents were without power, and many were hoping power would be restored Monday as the cleanup continued.

"It happened really, really fast," Commack resident John Graf said. "The sun was out, the skies were blue, and all of a sudden the black clouds came in. Within five minutes this happened, so there was really no chance to even react to it. It was a little crazy here. Everybody was hiding downstairs and in their basements. The wind came, the trees were sideways, and everything kind of fell over."
EMBED More News Videos

Jim Dolan reports on the damage caused by Sunday's severe storms.

The storm brought heavy rain in some places and, according to the National Weather Service, quarter-sized hail. It interrupted a lot of afternoon activities and took many by surprise.

Commack resident Niamet Dano described hiding in his backyard shed.

"I was praying to God that this tree wasn't going to fall on the shed and kill me," he said.
The Coast Guard responded to 20 cases of mariners in distress and 18 persons in the water wearing lifejackets in the waters off western Connecticut and the Long Island Sound.

There were road closures in Suffolk County Monday due to downed trees and power lines.

By Monday night, PSEG Long Island said it had restored service to about 80 percent of the customers who lost power because of the storm.

The utility said the hardest hit areas were in the towns of Islip, Huntington, Smithtown and Babylon.

* More Long Island news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.