Man dies after tree falls on him near Capitol building

WASHINGTON — An Architect of the Capitol  employee has died after part of a large tree fell on him near the grounds of the Capitol building Tuesday morning.

Around 9:15 a.m., a large branch of an American Elm fell onto Matthew McClanahan, a pipefitter for the Architect of the Capitol, at the corner of Independence Avenue and First Street in Southeast.

McClanahan was extracted from beneath the tree and taken to the hospital in “extremely critical” condition, officials said. He later died, said a spokesperson for the Architect of the Capitol.

The tree that came down is seen in the background. (WTOP/Rob Stallworth)
The tree that came down is seen in the background. (WTOP/Rob Stallworth)

The scene where part of a large tree fell on an Architect of the Capitol employee Tuesday morning. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The scene where part of a large tree fell on an Architect of the Capitol employee Tuesday morning. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

Traffic blocked on Independence Avenue Southeast near Capitol after part of a tree fell on a man. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Traffic blocked on Independence Avenue Southeast near Capitol after part of a tree fell on a man. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

(1/3)
The tree that came down is seen in the background. (WTOP/Rob Stallworth)
The scene where part of a large tree fell on an Architect of the Capitol employee Tuesday morning. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Traffic blocked on Independence Avenue Southeast near Capitol after part of a tree fell on a man. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

McClanahan was working on an irrigation pipe at the time the branch fell on him. The Architect of the Capitol is an agency that preserves and maintains landmark buildings and grounds of Capitol Hill.

Independence Avenue between First Street Southeast and Washington Avenue Southwest was closed for most of Tuesday.

“Matt was a talented, dedicated pipefitter in the Maintenance Division of Capitol Grounds. Please keep his family, friends and colleagues in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Architect of the Capitol  said in a statement.

The United States Capitol Police and the Architect of the Capitol have been evaluating and processing the scene. AOC Capitol Grounds crews are inspecting the tree and will remove the remaining portion of tree.

McClanahan is survived by his wife, Lauren, and two young children, Evie and Matthew, according to a statement from House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“Their loss is so sudden and unimaginable. I ask my colleagues and everyone in the Capitol community to keep Matthew’s loved ones in your thoughts and prayers,” Ryan said in the statement.

WTOP’s Teta Alim and Anna Isaacs contributed to this report.

Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up