CLEVELAND - Authorities Saturday said strong gusts of wind Friday night are partially to blame in the death of a Lakewood man.
Friday at around 11:50 p.m. a tree came crashing down on a vehicle on an I-90E exit ramp on South Marginal Road near Warren Road. The tree fell onto a car, severely injuring 37-year-old Michael Agnich according to Cleveland Police.
"…great kid, he just finished, went back and got his degree, graduated Cum Laude, he was going to be an Archeologist, had a job lined up for the summer to go to a dig, finally met the love of his live," said the victim's uncle before taking in a breath of air to hold back tears.
Agnich's uncle, Dr. Raymond Horwood told NewsChannel 5, his nephew had just dropped off his girlfriend at her Rocky River home and was headed back to his place in Lakewood when the accident happened.
On the other side of S. Marginal Rd., neighbors said they heard what sounded like a loud cracking noise just before midnight and then the sound of a crash.
Ned Perotti, at his mother-in-law's home Friday night, said, "I saw basically a large, looked like an Oak tree, and it was basically just lying across the hood of a white car … but it was obviously it was a pretty severe impact on the car, it had smashed a good part of the front of the car pretty severely."
Large trees in the area is why Perotti said he was helping his wife to move his mother-in-law out. Perotti said her home was damaged and neighbors say another house was almost ripped in two from two trees falling during Superstorm Sandy.
The tree that fell Friday night came from a property next to where the two trees fell last October according to neighbors and the property owner.
That owner would not speak to NewsChannel 5 on camera Saturday.
Agnich's aunt, who went to see the scene for herself, was too emotional to speak on camera. Off-camera, she told NewsChannel 5 she feels like she's in a nightmare she can't wake-up from.
Her husband, Dr. Horwood said, "This is such a freak-thing. It's like standing in the middle of a field and getting hit by lightning. The odds of this, it's easier to win the lottery than to have this happen. I think that's what's so, it's also so traumatic to the family - not just the loss of Michael but just the very bizarre circumstances under which it happened."
Horwood told NewsChannel 5 his nephew suffered wounds to the right side of his chest and abdomen. His aunt said a branch may have went into him. Police said Agnich died at Metrohealth Medical Center from his injuries.
CPD and the Department of Urban Forestry are investigating. No charges have been filed.