New Jersey Dad Dead After Tree Falls on Him amid Thunderstorm: 'You Can't Expect That'

Local officials identified the victim as Juan José Angeles Lopez, 30

<p>Juan Jose Angeles Lopez/Facebook</p> Juan José Angeles Lopez

Juan Jose Angeles Lopez/Facebook

Juan José Angeles Lopez

Authorities said that a 30-year-old East Orange, New Jersey, father-to-be was killed when a neighboring tree fell on him during a thunderstorm on June 26.

East Orange Mayor Ted Green and the Department of Public Safety confirmed the fatality as Juan José Angeles Lopez, per a June 27 news release from East Orange City Hall shared on Facebook.

According to a relative of Lopez, the victim was having a barbecue in his backyard around 8 p.m. local time when the storm rolled around.

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“As the winds intensified, Lopez was attempting to secure an outdoor umbrella when a tree on the property of 307 William Street collapsed on him,” read the news release.

“Despite efforts to assist him, Lopez was found unresponsive and later pronounced dead at 9:05 p.m. at CareWell Health Medical Center in East Orange,” East Orange City Hall’s statement continued.

<p>GoFundMe</p> A tree that fell as a result of a storm in East Orange, N.J., on June 26, 2024


A tree that fell as a result of a storm in East Orange, N.J., on June 26, 2024

The victim’s brother-in-law, Carlos, described the incident as “unbelievable” and “unexpected,” CBS affiliate WCBS reported.

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“One minute, we're out there barbecuing, having some drinks,” recalled Carlos. “The next minute, a big old tree just fell down and toppled. You can't expect that."

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"I went inside for 10 minutes. All I heard was a thump. When I came back outside, it was a mess," Carlos added.

At a June 27 press conference, Mayor Green expressed his condolences to the family of Lopez, whose wife is seven months pregnant. Lopez is also the father of a 2-year-old daughter.

“This is heart-wrenching, and as a community, we are going to do whatever we can to help Mr. Lopez’s wife and family during this difficult time,” Green said in his remarks.

The City of East Orange is now accepting clothing and baby item donations for Lopez’s family, which can be made at any East Orange firehouse or the Department of Health and Human Services.

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A GoFundMe was also created to provide financial support for the victim’s family. As of the morning of Friday, June 28,  the fundraiser has raised over $14,000.

PEOPLE reached out to the GoFundMe organizer for additional comment., but they did not immediately respond.

Thunderstorms in the area on June 26 resulted in severe storm warnings to be issued for parts of New Jersey, including Fort Dix, Toms River and Lakewood, reported.

In addition to the incident in East Orange, there were reports of fallen trees in New Jersey counties such as Essex and Passaic, per

Among those who experienced injuries during the storms in the Tri-State area was a Park Ridge, N.J., woman after a tree fell through her upstairs and first-floor ceiling at her home, per ABC affiliate WABC. She was taken to a hospital and later released.

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