At 5:37 pm on Monday, October 29, during Storm Sandy, members of the Sandy Hook, Botsford, and Newtown Hook & Ladder volunteer fire companies were dispatched to a report of a structure fire at a home at 5 Bradley Lane in Sandy Hook.
As it turned out, a tree had fallen and brought down an electrical service line with it, creating an electrical problem inside the house, firefighters explained.
Truck 443, which is minipumper fire truck that is garaged at Sandy Hook's fire substation on Berkshire Road, was among the fire vehicles that responded to the emergency call in very windy conditions.
As firefighters were later preparing to leave the property, they heard a loud cracking noise, explained Kevin Stoyak, Sandy Hook's first assistant fire chief.
Firefighter Chuck Kilson was Truck 443's driver. Firefighter Pete Barresi was the truck's passenger.
Mr Barresi was not inside the truck at the time, but Mr Kilson was.
A section of a massive white pine fell onto the truck's cab, crushing the cab section above the passenger seat. The tree section that hit the truck was about 7 inches in diameter.
Mr Kilson recalled that he had heard the tree cracking, after which the passenger section of the cab's roof collapsed seconds later.
“I got a bump on the head,” said the 30-year veteran of the fire company.
Mr Kilson , who is an emergency medical technician, said he did not require medical treatment after the incident.
Of escaping injury, he said, “I'm lucky, very lucky.”
Fire Captain John Jeltema also received a minor injury in the incident, said Fire Chief Bill Halstead.
Mr Kilson noted that the day of the incident, October 29, was his first wedding anniversary with his wife Lynne Kilson . On October 29, 2011, their wedding day, the area experienced a freak early snowstorm that dropped heavy wet snow, resulting in extensive power outages for days.
“The truck protected me in the end,” Mr Kilson observed. Mrs Kilson, who was standing nearby as her husband spoke at Sandy Hook’s main firehouse on Riverside Road, added, “It was his first anniversary, and that was what protected him.”