New York Firefighter Dies in North Carolina After Tree Falls on Car

A decorated New York firefighter was killed in a freakish accident at a tourist attraction in North Carolina after a tree fell on the S.U.V. that he and his family had been riding in, according to his family.

The firefighter, Casey Skudin, who was assigned to Ladder Company 137 in Rockaway, Queens, was in North Carolina with his wife and children to celebrate his 46th birthday when he died on Friday afternoon. His birthday would have fallen on Father’s Day.

“Our family will be healing for eternity,” his wife, Angela Skudin, said in a post on Instagram.

In a statement, the New York Fire Department called Mr. Skudin’s death a “terrible tragedy and loss,” saying it would support his family and colleagues.

The accident occurred near an entry gate at the Biltmore Estate, a popular tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina, when a windstorm blew down a heavy limb from a tree, which struck the vehicle, the estate said in a statement.

Mr. Skudin’s wife and older child escaped the car without any major injuries; his younger child was hospitalized with minor injuries, Ms. Skudin said in her Instagram post.

“This is a devastating tragedy, and we are deeply saddened by this news. Our heartfelt thoughts are with the family and their loved ones, and we are offering assistance at this time,” the Biltmore Estate said. The estate is a sprawling, 8,000-acre resort and the former chateau of George W. Vanderbilt.

Mr. Skudin, who had been the valedictorian of his fire academy class, had worked at a separate engine company in Brooklyn before moving to the ladder house in the Rockaways, where he was a capable rescue swimmer, according to the Fire Department. In 2009, he was awarded the department’s Fire Chiefs Association Memorial Medal after he’d entered the water, untethered, to rescue a drowning surfer off the 96th Street beach.

Mr. Skudin came from a well-known surf family that operates several popular surf shops and surf classes in Long Beach, Long Island and Rockaway under the name Skudin Surf. A lifelong surfer, he was a lifeguard for the town of Hempstead, N.Y., for two decades, his cousin Cliff Skudin said.

“Casey was an incredible human,” he said. “This is so tragic, and it’s beyond anything you can ever imagine.”

Mr. Skudin was constantly outdoors, his cousin said, and he used to take his family to Montauk, N.Y., or out on hikes. He regularly competed in triathlons, he was on the Fire Department surf team, and he was also a CrossFit trainer.

On Sunday, Skudin Surf put together a memorial where friends and loved ones could stop by and sign Mr. Skudin’s surfboard, Cliff Skudin said. The shop plans to have a ceremonial paddle-out in his memory on June 26 at the Lido West beach.

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