Pike Twp. man dies when tree hits porch during Hurricane Sandy

Kimberly Davidow reports from Pike Twp.

PIKE TWP., Pa. - The death of a man from Pike Township is being blamed on a fallen tree. The man's neighbors say, somehow, they managed to escape unscathed.

Millions are without power all across the East Coast. As of now, more than 30 people have been killed because of Hurricane Sandy's wrath. Five of those victims were from Pennsylvania. One of those victims was from Pike Township, Berks County, Gerald Witman, 62.

Witman's neighbors said Gerald Witman was a father and husband, who had recently retired.

"It's sad to see somebody get killed during this whole incident," said Daryl Ritchie, Witman's neighbor.

Reading State Police, Fire and EMS responded to Witman's home along the 300 block of Woodside Avenue after Witman's wife called 911.  According to police, Witman was letting his dogs out Monday night when this tree came crashing down onto the roof and porch of his home. Police stated that Gerald Witman was on the porch at the time and was killed.

"Winds were horrendous. They were really bad, the rain was bad," said Ritchie.

At 9:30 Monday night, neighbor Corey Rider told 69 News that's when Hurricane Sandy's winds became very intense in their area. Just about 10 o'clock, Rider stated that is when the tree fell down and killed Witman.

"I was over there as soon as it happened," said Rider.

Corey Rider, 16, lives right next door to Witman on Woodside Drive. Rider stated that Witman's wife was home at the time and was not injured. The dogs also were not hurt.

Right in Rider's front yard, he stated that he and his family are lucky that their home is still intact after a 60 foot tree uprooted from the ground. Underneath this tree, Rider stated, there was a water spring that probably loosened the soil.

"I was sitting in my room talking on the phone and I heard a big crash. I didn't know what it was," said Rider, "I can't believe it didn't come through the house for how big it is."

Neighbors stated they are trying to pick up the pieces and help Witman's widow and family during this very difficult time.

"We're going to try and do what we can do to help her." said Ritchie.

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