A devastating scene unfolded on a road in Gloucestershire on Tuesday afternoon as Storm Henk's high winds and heavy rain brought tragedy. A large tree, uprooted by the fierce 80mph gales, toppled onto a passing car, killing the driver instantly.
Emergency services rushed to the site on the A433 Tetbury Road near the A429 junction at around 3:15 pm, where they found the driver pinned under the massive fallen oak. Despite their best efforts, the man in his 50s was pronounced dead at the scene.
The victim, from the Bath area, was believed to be driving home from work when the accident occurred. Police have informed his next of kin and the coroner. His name is being withheld until family members can be notified.
Witnesses reported hearing a loud crack before seeing the tree come crashing down onto the road right as the man's silver sedan approached.
The driver had no time to react or brake before the full weight of the dense, mature oak smashed onto the front of his car, crushing the hood and front seats.
"It happened so fast, but sounded like an explosion when that gigantic tree fell," said a visibly shaken eyewitness. "Then came the screeching brakes and horrible crunching metal. We knew instantly the poor man didn't stand a chance."
The fatal incident took place at the height of Storm Henk, which brought heavy rain and winds over 70mph to much of the UK on Tuesday. The unprecedented winds uprooted trees and downed power lines across the region.
Meteorologists say the saturated ground from weeks of rain likely contributed to the tragedy, as the loamy soil would have had less stability for the trees' roots.
"With the ground so wet, it doesn't take as strong of winds to topple a heavy tree," explained a weather expert. "The winds were high, but gusts of 80mph could uproot a firmly rooted tree when the soil is this saturated."
Emergency crews worked for hours to clear the massive oak from the crumpled car and reopen the road. A detour is still in place as police investigate and wait for heavy equipment to remove the tree.