Downed tree a close call for some drivers

(07/21/03) HASTINGS - Right in the middle of Monday's evening commute, a 100-year-old oak tree came crashing down across two lanes of traffic on the Saw Mill River Parkway. It happened on the southbound side of the Saw Mill just after 6:00 Monday evening, a half mile south of the Lawrence Street Exit. No one was injured.

Alex Herndon was driving his SUV on the Saw Mill where the tree came down. He slammed on his brakes and barely made it underneath the trunk of the tree as it came crashing down. The driver behind him, Howard Kaufman, also came to a screeching halt. He narrowly avoided rear-ending Herndon's car and getting crushed. Neither driver was injured, but their cars will probably be totaled.

The accident shut down the southbound lanes of the parkway for 45 minutes, causing traffic backups in both directions. At one point during Monday's evening rush hour, traffic on the Saw Mill was backed up all the way to Interstate 287.

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