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89-year-old man killed by fallen tree identified

Posted at 12:12 PM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 17:28:04-04

FINKSBURG, Md. — If it wasn't a tornado that passed over bloom road in Finksburg, Brandon Welch says the strong winds packed all of the punch of one.

"It was basically just a bunch of big, dark clouds came up and then the wind got really heavy, and I'm standing in the living room, and I could look out more than one window, and it was blowing in all directions around my house and tearing all of the branches off of the trees and everything," said Welch.

The thunderstorm knocked down trees and power lines in the middle of the afternoon, and a few hours later, Welch's wife, Erin, returned home to find her neighbors breathing a sigh of relief.

"Initially, we were all very grateful that it didn't seem that, on this street anyway, it didn't seem that any homes or any vehicles were damaged. It was all trees, and that can be cleaned up and fixed,” said Welch, “The mood was very jovial sort of and then all of the sudden a few hours later, a lot of emergency equipment came."

Rescue units called to the scene after a neighbor discovered 89-year-old Harry Swan had been pinned by a fallen tree outside his home.

"The man had come out from his house to look at the damage, like a tree branch had gone through the side of his house apparently, and then the tree, itself, fell on him," said Brandon.

Swan's neighbors say the accident happened almost three hours after the storm had passed, and there's no way he could have known stepping outside that he would be placing his life in danger.

"He didn't do anything wrong. He didn't do anything reckless,” stressed Brandon. “It was very unfortunate that he got killed."

The National Weather Service is still assessing the extent of the damage and what appeared on radar at the time before it will determine whether someone will tour the Finksburg area to determine whether it was actually a tornado that touched down.
No one saw the tree actually fall on Swan. His body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore for further investigation.

The fallen trees were part of widespread damage in some of Maryland’s northern counties, as severe storms prompted tornado warnings, high winds and intense rain.