FDNY firefighter's widow sues estate where falling tree killed husband

Angela Skudin filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Biltmore Estate following the death of her husband, Casey, at the N.C. tourist attraction


Alison Cutler
The Charlotte Observer

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The widow of a firefighter who was killed when a tree fell on the family’s car in North Carolina is suing the Biltmore Estate, where the incident happened.

Angela Skudin filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Biltmore State on behalf of her and her children, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported. The lawsuit alleges that the estate was “grossly negligent” considering the tree was “rotten” and remained on the property near the road, the outlet reported.

“I want answers and I want to make sure the rest of their property is safe so that no other person has to feel the pain of grief and loss that my entire family is feeling ,” Skudin said on Facebook about the lawsuit.

Angela and her husband Casey Skudin visited the Biltmore Estate with their two sons on June 17 because it would have been Casey Skudin’s 46th birthday on Father’s Day, June 19, McClatchy News previously reported.

The family was driving through the estate when a tree limb fell on their car, killing Casey Skudin and injuring one of their sons, McClatchy News reported.

“It landed right on the car, right on Casey. Everybody was knocked out except me. And I just got through the window, got over to him…his hands were blue,” Angela Skudin told Long Island News. “I held them and I kissed him and just told him the truth that he was the best husband and best father and that it was OK for him to let go. And I slid his wedding ring off his finger and put it on mine.”

The incident has robbed Skudin of her husband’s “beautiful soul,” she wrote on Facebook.

Casey Skudin was a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department and served 16 years, McClatchy News previously reported. He also received the Fire Chiefs Association Memorial Medal in 2010 for diving into frigid waters to rescue a surfer who was trapped under the surface.

The tree that fell on the Skudin’s car had steel cables installed “to keep the rotted tree on its premises for longer than safe or necessary,” according to court documents from the lawsuit obtained by WLOS.

The Biltmore Estate told Citizen Times its staff works to maintain an abundance of trees on the property and tag those closest to the roads.

“Our arborist team includes certified arborists who follow best management practices for tree risk assessment in the management of these trees, as well as countless additional trees across the 8,000 acre estate,” a Biltmore spokesperson told the Citizen Times.

Spokesperson LeeAnn Donnelly said the estate will deny all accusations of negligence, and sent McClatchy News the following statement:

“We received notification of a lawsuit filed by Arnold and Itkin Trial Lawyers on behalf of their clients, Angela Skudin and her two children. The complaint is regarding a tragic accident on our entrance road that resulted in fatal injuries to Ms. Skudin’s husband, Casey, and injuries to their son. A portion of a tree fell during a period of high winds and struck the guest’s vehicle as they entered the estate. There have been multiple eyewitness accounts of a short-duration high wind event around that time. There are no words to express our deep sorrow for the Skudin family’s unimaginable loss and we offer them our deepest sympathy.”

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