Investigators: Falling tree death appears weather-related

February 7, 2020 GMT

TOWNSEND, Tenn. (AP) — A woman was killed and four people were injured Thursday when a rain-soaked tree fell on a van carrying city employees in Tennessee, officials said.

The crash appeared to have been weather-related from preliminary information but was still under investigation, Lt. Bill Miller, spokesman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, said in an email. The vehicle was returning to Sevierville from Townsend, Miller said.

In a separate crash, a man died and two others were injured Thursday when a car hydroplaned in Knoxville and hit a city truck, Knoxville police communications manager Scott Erland said in a news release. The names were not released.

In the first wreck, the van was carrying six Sevierville city employees and the wife of one of the employees, Bob Stahlke, spokesman for the city of Sevierville, said in a news release. The employees work in the Public Works Department and had been attending a meeting in Townsend.

Stahlke said there had been “multiple days of extremely heavy rain in the area” but would not speculate on what caused the tree to fall.

The woman who died was Brooke Sampson, 36, a former part-time public works employee and the wife of another employee who was also in the van, the release said. Sampson was a full-time teacher with Sevier County Schools.

The four city employees who were injured were taken to area hospitals. Conditions were not available, the release said.