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Drivers change commutes after tragic tree-falling incident

Friday - 7/20/2012, 3:42pm  ET

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

MCLEAN, Va. - Some local drivers say they may be changing their driving patterns after a terrible accident earlier this week when a motorist was killed after a tree fell on his car on Georgetown Pike.

"I don't know, I'm just a little freaked out driving on Georgetown Pike right now. So I go out of my way to stay on Route 7 and go a little longer to 495, instead of cutting over," says Deedee Grucelski, of Reston, who regularly passes where the tree fell.

"I'm noticing the trees that are cracked and split open and look like they can fall at any time."

She says she knows people who are experiencing the same feelings behind the wheel right now.

While all local road crews have arborists who regularly check on trees, the arborists depend on the public to make complaints about specific trees that don't look healthy.

"It's obvious that the root system had decayed," said Robert Burris, an arborist with Virginia Department of Transportation, after the 100-foot, 40-ton tree toppled on Tuesday night. "The problem is there is no way to know that. We've got a much better view now that the tree has fallen over than we did when it was upright."

No complaints had been made about the sickly tree.

Albert Carl Roeth III, 64, was killed when his 2008 Mercedes was crushed by the tree.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)