FDNY veteran, a Hurricane Sandy hero, killed by falling tree at N.C. tourist attraction

Firefighter Casey Skudin was in his family's SUV with his wife and two children on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate when high winds struck


Kyle Lawson
Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A longtime member of the FDNY with several medals to his name was killed Friday at a tourist attraction in Asheville, N.C., after a tree toppled onto his family's SUV during a windstorm.

Firefighter Casey Skudin, 45, of Ladder Co. 137 in the Rockaways, was in the vehicle with his wife and two children on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate at the time of the incident, the New York Post reported.

Skudin's wife, Angela, broke the news on her Instagram account, accompanied by a selfie of her and her husband shot earlier that day.

"When we took this photo at 1:13 p.m. today, I didn't realize it would be our last photo together ... for 20 years this man loved me and I loved him," Angela Skudin wrote. "Casey was the best friend, best father, best husband ... he was my everything."

Hundreds of people reacted to the post, including one man who wrote, "In such disbelief right now, my stomach is in knots. I don't even know what to say. He was as good as they come."

 

A spokeswoman for the Biltmore issued a written statement to the Asheville Citizen Times stating that "during a weather event involving high winds, a tree fell across a road on the estate entrance and struck a guest vehicle."

An FDNY spokesperson confirmed the reports Sunday, calling it a "terrible tragedy and loss to his family and the FDNY."

"The Fire Dept. will support firefighter Skudin's family and colleagues through this challenging time."

Built in 1895 for Staten Island native George Vanderbilt, the Biltmore was the largest private home in the country with 35 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms. It was opened as a tourist attraction in 1930.

"This is a devastating tragedy and we are deeply saddened by this news," the Biltmore's statement continued. "Our heartfelt thoughts are with the family and their loved ones, and we are offering assistance at this time."

According to the Post, Skudin's father, David, confirmed his son's death and said the other family members who were in the car are OK, however, a 10-year-old child remains hospitalized.

As a firefighter in Queens, Skudin's heroism in performing water rescues and helping residents during Hurricane Sandy earned him multiple FDNY medals, the Rockaway Times reported.

Skudin, who lived with his family in Long Beach, Long Island, held a bachelor's degree in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He's also from a well-known surfing family that runs schools in Long Beach, the Rockaways, New Jersey's Meadowlands and Puerto Rico.

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(c)2022 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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